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Norbert Orgler papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2017.143.1

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    Collection of correspondence, envelopes, photograph, and death certificate documenting the experiences of Norbert Orgler (donor’s father) during the Holocaust.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Siegfried Orgler
    Collection Creator
    Norbert Orgler
    Norbert Orgler was born on December 11, 1899, in Cologne, Germany, to a Jewish couple, Abraham and Henriette Kirsch Orgler. He had five brothers, Leopold (b. 1894), Israel Jacob (b.1896), Sally (b.1898), Josef (b.1901), and the fifth and youngest brother, who died of pneumonia in 1932. Norbert owned a service shop in Cologne, and was married to a Catholic woman, Auguste Schwartz Orgler (b.1901.) Israel married Käthe, Leopold married Ettel Pollak, and Josef, a musician, married Dorthea Pauly. On June 24, 1929, Norbert and Auguste’s son, Siegfried, was born. On January 30, 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, and the Nazi regime passed legislation to disenfranchise the Jewish population. Norbert’s store was destroyed during the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938. Three days later Norbert, Auguste, and Siegfried left Germany. They settled in Antwerp, Belgium, along with Leopold, Israel, Josef, and their families. Sally remained in Cologne.

    In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II, and in May 1940, they invaded Belgium. The Belgian government considered all male German citizens enemy aliens, and required them to report to the authorities. Although Norbert and his brothers had been stripped of their citizenship in 1935, they were still required to report, and when they did so, they were arrested. On May 12, 1940, they were deported to Saint Cyprien internment camp in southern France. In June, France signed an armistice with Germany, and southern France fell under the control of the newly established collaborationist French government based out of Vichy. Many non-Jewish Germans were released from the camps. As Jews, Norbert, Israel, Josef, and Leopold remained at Saint Cyprien. Not long after Norbert had been deported, the authorities asked if Auguste wanted to divorce him for being Jewish, and when she refused they began to persecute her and Siegfried by restricting their rights, limiting access to resources, and treating them cruelly for choosing to associate with Jewish people. Disease broke out in Saint Cyprien, and the Orgler brothers were transported to Gurs internment camp, where Leopold escaped. In February 1941, Auguste and Siegfried were included in a larger group of Jewish people transported to the town of Kwaadmechelen in the province of Limburg. The authorities did not want the people in Antwerp, so they removed them and sent them out to perform forced labor. After March 9, Israel was transported to Rivesaltes internment camp. That summer, Auguste and Siegfried were sent back to Antwerp because the authorities were not entirely sure what to do with them in Limburg. They moved into a non-Jewish neighborhood, and Siegfried attended school while Auguste cleaned apartments to earn a little money. In April 1942, Norbert was sent to La Grand’Combe internment camp, where he worked as a forced laborer in a stone quarry. In May, Auguste and Siegfried refused to wear Star of David patches when ordered to do so. Norbert was later transported to Les Milles internment camp and then Drancy transit camp. On September 7, 1942, Norbert was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland, on transport 29. He was deported to Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany, in early 1945, and perished there.

    When Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, Norbert’s wife, Auguste, and son, Siegfried, were in Antwerp, as were Norbert’s sisters-in-law, Käthe and Dorthea. Käthe later discovered that in 1942, her husband, Israel, was sent to Drancy, and on November 6, he was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on transport 42 and is believed to have been murdered there. Dorthea learned that in 1944, her husband, Josef, was transported to Malines-Mechelen internment camp and Drancy, before being deported on July 31, to Auschwitz-Birkenau, on transport 77. He was later deported to Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, and murdered before June 1945. Norbert’s brother, Sally, had made his way from Cologne to Leipzig, and on February 2, 1945, he was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German controlled Czechoslovakia, on transport 129-XVI/5. After the war, he returned to Cologne. After escaping from Gurs, their brother Leopold managed to evade capture and survived the war. In January 1950, Norbert was legally declared dead by the Belgian court. In 1952, Norbert’s wife, Auguste, and his son, Siegfried, travelled to Rotterdam, Netherlands, where they boarded the SS Rijndam in October, arriving in New York City, New York on November 8. Travelling with them was Siegfried’s wife, Josephine. The family settled in New York. Auguste, aged 83, died in February 1985, in Westchester, New York. Siegfried later moved to Florida.

    Physical Details

    German Dutch
    1 folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017 by Siegfried Orgler, son of Norbert and Auguste Orgler.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:30:05
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