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Eisenberg and Birnbaum families papers

Document | Accession Number: 2016.188.1

Correspondence, documents, and photographs relating to the immigration of Helena (Nelly) Eisenberg, and her parents, Ilya and Sonia Eisenberg, from Danzig to the United States between 1936-1939; as well as the immigration of her future husband, Joseph Birnbaum, from Kosice, Czechoslovakia, to Baltimore, in 1939. The collection also includes photographs and correspondence relating to the histories of the Eisenberg and Birnbaum families in Europe prior to emigration, and documentation of the Eisenberg family’s restitution claims with Germany and Poland.

The correspondence series largely consist of correspondence from Sonia and Ilya Eisenberg to their daughter, Nelly, between the time of Nelly’s immigration to the U.S. in 1936, and the Eisenbergs joining her there in 1939. It also contains correspondence from Sonia’s friend from the United States, whom she met at a boarding school in Wiesbaden in 1910, Julia Strauss, and her husband, Myer. Julia wrote initially to maintain the friendship, to inquire about conditions in Danzig after the outbreak of World War I, and seeking to visit Sonia and her family during trips to Europe in the 1920s. But with the advent of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s, Julia also began seeking ways to help the family emigrate from Danzig, which although having the League of Nations mandated status of a “free city,” was nonentheless threatened by the actions of Nazi Germany, before its own takeover by Germany in 1939. Other Eisenberg family correspondence includes from various family members and friends after emigration, including Sonia’s mother, Sabina (Szyfra) Daion, who wrote to the family in Baltimore from Bialystok, during the period of the Soviet occupation of that part of Poland from 1939 to 1941. The Birnbaum family correspondence includes extensive postwar correspondence relating to Joseph Birnbaum’s efforts to assist family members in what was then Czechoslovakia emigrate following the communist takeover in 1948.

The biographical materials include birth certificates, marriage certificates, school diplomas, copies of passports and other identification documents. Also included are financial documents of Ilya Eisenberg, a notebook of Nelly’s with quotations and newspaper clippings, and a copy of W. Somerset Maugham’s Sadie Thompson: (Rain) and Other Stories of the South Sea Islands with an inscription by her friend Dora Shapiro. The immigration papers include affidavits for visas and correspondence with various family members, friends, aid organizations, and offices pertaining to the immigration of Joseph Birnbaum’s sister, Ruzena (Rozsi), her two children, Erika and Juraj (George) Frankl, and her second husband, Aladar (Ali) Low-Beer, who were able to leave Topolcany, Czechoslovakia and settle in Montreal, Canada, in 1949. The photographs are primarily depictions of pre-war family life in Europe.

inclusive:  1904-1970
7 boxes
1 oversize box
2 oversize folders
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Judith Grinspan
Record last modified: 2021-11-22 15:32:59
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