Loeb family papers
Document | Accession Number: 1997.74
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Harry O. Loeb. In memory of the St. Louis passengers who perished.
Contains material related to Olga Loeb (donor's mother) and Heinz Otto Loeb (donor) and their journey on the MS St. Louis. Includes photographs, telegrams, and programs of on-ship performances.
- Document Creator
- Harry O. Loeb
Oral History summary from USC Shoah Foundation interview: Born Hans Otto Loeb on May 1, 1926 in Hamburg, Germany. Brother Eric Stefan Loeb is 4 ½ years older. Father Richard came from Stuttgart, moved to Hamburg as a young student and went into business as a hide dealer. Died in January 1928 of a heart attack. Mother Olga Jakobson Loeb lived her whole life in Hamburg until emigrating to the United States. Went to public kindergarten and grammar school in Hamburg and then the Talmud Torah Schule. Jewish school was divided into Orthodox and Liberal students; Harry was in the Liberal group. Olga’s brother Ludwig and other men stepped in as father-figures. Spent a few summer vacations with cousins in the south. Never knew grandparents because they had all died before he was born. Olga lived frugally without lots of maids and a big house, and saved money for sons’ educations. Olga got an American student visa for Eric; Harry was jealous when the family spent lots of time preparing Eric to go. Olga and Harry moved to Frankfurt in 1938 and she learned how to be a laboratory tech; Harry attended school and was a good student. Celebrated Jewish holidays at the Liberal synagogue. Went to temple twice a month on Friday evenings, often with friends, and attended Hebrew school until he wasn’t allowed. Whole family celebrated Passover together until 1937 when people began to emigrate. Hard to say goodbye to Eric because they didn’t know when they would see him again, even though they had quota numbers. Olga made them very aware of what was happening in Germany to Jews, and taught them to be polite and friendly to everyone. On Kristallnacht, Olga came home early and made Harry appear ill; told officers he had the measles when they came to take him away. Olga told him Hitler wanted to take the Jews’ wealth. Felt devastated when he saw the smashed and burnt synagogues, because they were holy places and the people who went there hadn’t done anything wrong. All the jewelry and silver in Hamburg had been taken except for some which had been mailed to America. Olga tried to get visas to Cuba, Shanghai, South Africa, and America. Returned to Hamburg in 1939 and prepared to leave for Cuba. Didn’t have to wear a star, but antagonized by Hitler Youth. Learned a little English from a private tutor. Bar-mitzvahed before leaving with a small Torah and a brand-new tallis; it was sad. Sent a few items in a lift to New York. Left on the St. Louis on May 13, 1939, and met a few men who had come back from concentration camps. Voyage was pleasant. Passengers communicated with HIAS when trouble started. Uncle Lud and Aunt Anna came to the Havana harbor every day to get Harry and Olga into Cuba. Returned to Antwerp after eight days, traveling along the U.S. coastline. Olga decided to go to her brother in Holland rather than her cousin in England. Stayed in an attic room with Uncle Lud Jakobson and a cousin in Amstelveen. Erna and Gerhardt Minton lived there too. Olga cooked and cleaned as payment. Harry learned English, but couldn’t speak Dutch. Uncle Ernst and cousins Ellen and Ursula lived in Amsterdam, so lots of family to see. After 6 months, sailed on the Zandern from Rotterdam to New York and arrived on January 24. Met by Eric, Aunt Estelle, and cousins Robert, Amy, and Johnny, but everyone was unfamiliar. Olga stayed with Erna Bing’s mother and Harry stayed with a family in Fort Washington; Eric lived in Lancaster, PA. Went to school in Manhattan. The Cuban family came to New York in March 1940. Harry moved to friends in Kew Gardens and went to Forest Hills High School; had a part-time job and a social life. Carried a pink booklet as an enemy alien and entered the service in 1944. Became a citizen in Jacksonville, FL. Sent to the front in France and visited Buchenwald to find family. Didn’t see anyone he knew, but didn’t look at the book of people who had died. Saw stick-thin survivors and helped translate; couldn’t give them his K-rations. No family from Holland survived; some died in Amstelveen, uncle died in Theresienstadt, one cousin was denounced and deported. Received a 30-day furlough and met wife Marion in the Catskills. V-J Day came before he could be sent to Japan. Transferred to the 95th Infantry Division. Encountered anti-Semitism when the company commander gave him KP duty on Yom Kippur. Learned the leather business in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, from a friend’s father who had known Harry’s father in Germany. Has two children, Richard and Catherine, and four grandchildren, Sandra, Michael, David, and Lauren.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- Donated to the USHMM in 1997 by Harry Loeb.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
Record last modified: 2019-02-08 13:33:07
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn548770