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Jack and Sylvia Heisler papers

Document | Accession Number: 2015.498.1

The Jack and Sylvia Heisler papers contain correspondence, forms and other records pertaining to the Holocaust-era restitution claims of Jack Heisler and Sylvia Stern Heisler, filed against the West German government between 1958 and 1970, and related to their internment as forced laborers at Auschwitz, Sömmerda, and other camps.

Jack Heisler’s earliest compensation claims in these files date from the late 1958 through 1961, when he filed claims on behalf of himself and his brother Edward, at the office that handled compensation claims for the state of Rheinland-Pfalz in Trier, Germany. He based his claims on damages sustained to personal property, as well as his inability to continue his education and practice a profession, and these claims were denied in 1961. The documents from this period consist largely of correspondence between Hugo Hoffman, an attorney in Buffalo, New York, who was representing him in his claim, and Max Cahn, an attorney in Frankfurt who was submitting the documentation before the agency in Trier. He subsequently filed compensation claims in Trier for damages to his health, and the present files, beginning in 1964, document the efforts of his broker in the United States, G.S. Keso, working with an attorney in Munich, Harry Wolf, to obtain a favorable outcome for him. Despite repeated medical examinations, the court in Trier denied his claims in 1970, and the correspondence ends shortly after that, save for a form letter from 1981 from a different law office, pertaining to claims against the Czechoslovakian government, for confiscated property.

The compensation claims from Sylvia Heisler include claims for injuries sustained and both physical and psychological suffering, as well as claims for compensation for loss of freedom and inability to pursue an education or professional occupation, all due to her imprisonment in concentration camps from 1944-1945. The papers regarding these claims are divided into three files: general correspondence, medical records, and claims directed at specific companies.

The “general correspondence” folder consists primarily of correspondence with the broker handling her case in the United States, G.S. Keso, and his German counterparts, who often sent rulings from the courts handling her claims, as well as requests for further documents or information from her. These claims were argued on her behalf in Darmstadt, Germany, between 1958 and 1969, with an initial ruling in 1967 rejecting her claims, and a subsequent ruling in her favor being obtained in 1969. The “medical records” folder contains letters from physicians in the United States, attesting to various physical and psychological ailments that were attributed to her mistreatment in the camps, and which were meant to be supporting documentation for her claims. In addition, the documents in the folder marked “Compensation Treuhand” show her efforts to obtain compensation from the specific companies that ran the forced labor camps where she was interned. She unsuccessfully pursued claims against Krupp and Siemens, but also filed a more detailed claim in 1967, through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, from the Rheinmetall Fund, which sought to compensate forced laborers who worked for AG Rheinmetall, as Mrs. Heisler had at Sömmerda. This claim seems to have been successful, and documents include affidavits given by Mrs. Heisler as a witness for other forced laborers she knew from that time, including her sister, Lillian Hahn, who also served as witnesses on her behalf, as well as the application forms used, and a letter from her representative announcing a settlement payment in 1968.

inclusive:  1958-1981
7 folders
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Steve Heisler and Cynthia Heisler Wishkovsky
Record last modified: 2021-11-10 13:03:45
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