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Eva and Otto Pfister papers

Document | Accession Number: 2018.448.1

The Eva and Otto Pfister papers consist of diaries and immigration files documenting German Jewish refugee Eva Pfister’s experiences in France and New York, her efforts on behalf of her non-Jewish German refugee husband, Otto Pfister, and their socialist colleagues, and the anti-Nazi work of the Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund (ISK). Eva’s four diaries document her teenage years in Goldap, her life as a refugee in France separated from Otto, interned in Gurs, waiting in Montauban for her opportunity to emigrate, her escape over the Pyrénées to Lisbon, and her immigration to the United States aboard the Nea Hellas. Her immigration files document her efforts to obtain visas for her ISK colleagues stranded in southern France.

Eva’s “Goldap” diary documents her teenage years in Goldap and her experiences with anti-Semitism.
Her January-May 1940 diary documents the period between Otto’s detention in a French internment
camp and the eve of Eva’s internment in Gurs. She did not know at the time whether Otto was still
alive, and her entries, directed to Otto, focus on their first meeting at the vegetarian restaurant in Paris,
the early development of their relationship, and her reflections about their separation and the
uncertainty of their future. Her “Blue Book” diary dates from May to September 1940, and her entries
were addressed to Otto who, unknown to Eva at that time, had been taken prisoner by the Nazis in
Luxembourg. Eva’s entries include descriptions of Eva’s internment by the French government as an
“enemy alien” at the Vélodrome d’Hiver and Camp de Gurs and descriptions of her release and refuge in
Montauban. Documents inserted into the diary’s back pocket include Eva’s certificate of liberation from
Gurs and seven letters from Eva to Otto. Documents inserted into the diary’s front pocket include
photographs of Eva, Otto, and the gravestone of Otto’s mother and a postcard from Eva to Otto. Eva’s
“Lisbon diary” includes descriptions of her escape over the Pyrénées, her efforts in Lisbon to obtain a
place on a ship to America, and her reflections on board the Nea Hellas to New York.

Immigration files comprise Eva’s file titled “Visa efforts” and include correspondence and documents
pertaining to her work in America to obtain visas for her ISK colleagues stranded in southern France,

inclusive:  1925-1950
8 folders
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Kathy, Peter and Tom Pfister
Record last modified: 2021-11-22 16:54:31
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