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Freyer and Lichtenstein families papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1991.A.0033.2

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    Freyer and Lichtenstein families papers
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    Overview

    Description
    The collection consists of biographical material, immigration paperwork, correspondence, and photographs documenting the pre-war lives of Leo and Eva Freyer (née Lichtenstein) and their children Marion and Ursula in Berlin, their emigration from Germany to the United States in 1939, and wartime correspondence with family members and friends still in Germany. There is a small amount of material related to the Lichtenstein family of Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).

    Biographical material includes birth certificates, German identification cards and passports, marriage papers, documents related to Leo’s service in the German Army during WWI and his employment, Marion’s school notebooks, clippings regarding Heinz Lichtenstein and Max Lichtenstein, and documents of Hans Wolff (Marion’s future husband). Also included are pages of testimony about Flora and Paula Freyer written by Marion for Vad Vashem.

    Immigration papers include correspondence and papers documenting the Freyers’ emigration from Germany in 1938-1939. Included is correspondence from Leo’s American cousin Max Lindner and the National Council of Jewish Women, both of whom helped the family secure visas. There are also two affidavits from Max and Max’s nephew Carlos Israels.

    Correspondence includes a letter from Paula Freyer to Leo sent through the American Red Cross in 1942, which was the last letter received from her before she was deported to Auschwitz; postcards from Leo’s cousin Else Loewy in Berlin who was also trying to emigrate; postwar letters from Margarete Montag, a Catholic German woman who provided food and support to Flora and Paula prior to their deportation, her letters describe her last contact with them, their deportation, and conditions in Berlin; and postwar letters to Heinz Lichtenstein from Rabbi Leopold Neuhaus regarding Heinz’s father Max’s death in Theresienstadt and an orphaned child survivor Heinz adopted in 1948. Also included are postwar letters received by Marion’s brother-in-law Zalkin Mandelstam from Michails Kan in Riga, Latvia.

    Photographs include prewar family photographs of the Freyer and Lichtenstein families, as well as a postwar image of Margarete Montag.
    Date
    inclusive:  1906-1985
    bulk:  1938-1953
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Marion Freyer Wolff
    Collection Creator
    Freyer family
    Lichtensten family
    Biography
    Leo Freyer (1893-1987) was born in Lyck, East Prussia (now Ełk, Poland) into a Jewish Orthodox family. His parents, Selmar (1860?-1929) and Flora (née Lewinsky, 1863-1944) had ten other children, including Pauline (Paula, 1895-1943). Leo served in World War I. He met Eva Lichtenstein while he was stationed in Königsberg, East Prussia after her father, Max Lichtenstein, opened his home to Jewish soldiers serving in the German Army.

    Eva Lichtenstein (1895-1987) was born in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) to Max (1860-1942) and Johanna (née Samuel, 1861-1935). Eva had one sister, Käthe (1890-1943), and three brothers, Erwin (1901-1993), Tony (1892-1894), and Heinz (1904-1990). Max was a prominent lawyer, member of the city council, and active in B’nai Brith.

    Leo and Eva married in Königsberg in 1920. They had two daughters, Ursula Brigitte (Ulla, b. 1921) and Marion (later Marion Wolff, b. 1925). The Freyers lived in Berlin where Leo owned a button and buckle factory. By 1936, Ursula and Marion were no longer allowed to attend public schools under Nazi rule and enrolled in a private Jewish school. By 1938, Leo lost his business and began to look for ways to emigrate from Germany. He received affidavits from his American cousin Max Lindner and Max’s nephew, Carlos Israels. The Freyers received notice that they would be granted visas in July 1939 and on November 15, 1939 they left Germany for Rotterdam where they boarded the SS Rotterdam on November 22, 1939 to sail to the United States. The family stayed for a month in a shelter run by the American Jewish Congress and then settled in Baltimore, Maryland in January 1940.

    Marion married Hans Wolff in 1950. Wolff was a former classmate Marion reconnected with after reading an article about him in the German-Jewish American newspaper, Aufbau. Hans and his sister Marianne escaped from Germany to England on a Kindertransport in 1939. They both immigrated to the United States, where Hans changed his name to John and joined the army. The couple adopted a German girl in 1958. Marion was a math teacher and John was a biochemist at the National Institutes of Health. Marion is also the author of three books about her life and Holocaust experiences: For Rebecca: the story of my other life, The shrinking circle: memories of Nazi Berlin, 1933-1939, and The expanding circle: an adoption odyssey.

    Leo’s mother Flora was murdered at Theresienstadt in 1944, and his sister Paula was killed at Auschwitz in 1943. Eva’s father Max was murdered at Theresienstadt in 1942, and her sister Käthe was killed at Majdanek in 1943.
    Eva Lichtenstein (1895-1987) was born in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) to Max (1860-1942) and Johanna (née Samuel, 1861-1935). Eva had one sister, Käthe (1890-1943), and three brothers, Erwin (1901-1993), Tony (1892-1894), and Heinz (1904-1990). Max was a prominent lawyer, member of the city council, and active in B’nai Brith.

    Leo and Eva married in Königsberg in 1920 after meeting when her father opened his house to Jewish soldiers in the German Army stationed in Königsberg. They had two daughters, Ursula Brigitte (Ulla, b. 1921) and Marion (later Marion Wolff, b. 1925). They Freyers lived in Berlin where Leo owned a button and buckle factory. By 1936, Ursula and Marion were no longer allowed to attend public school and enrolled in a private Jewish school. By 1938, Leo lost his business and began to look for ways to emigrate from Germany. He received affidavits from his American cousin Max Lindner and Max’s nephew, Carlos Israels. The Freyers received notice that they would be granted visas in July 1939 and on November 15, 1939 they left Germany for Rotterdam where they boarded the SS Rotterdam on November 22, 1939 to sail to the United States. The family stayed for a month in a shelter run by the American Jewish Congress and then settled in Baltimore, Maryland in January 1940.

    Eva’s father Max was murdered at Theresienstadt in 1942, and her sister Käthe was killed at Majdanek in 1943.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German English
    Extent
    1 box
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged as four series. Series 1. Biographical material, 1917-1985; Series 2. Immigration, 1937-1939; Series 3. Correspondence, 1940-1956; Series 4. Photographs, 1906-1953

    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

    Provenance
    Marion Wolff donated the Freyer and Lichtenstein families papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1991, 1998, 2004, and 2022. The accessions numbered ALL 1991.A.0033. 1998.A.0293, 2004.388.1, and 2022.122.1 have been incorporated into this collection.
    Primary Number
    1991.A.0033.2
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-06 11:33:57
    This page:
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