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Dr. Arthur Kessler papers

Document | Accession Number: 2019.183.1

The collection documents the Holocaust experiences of Dr. Arthur Kessler, originally of Czernowitz (Chernivtsi, Ukraine), including his imprisonment in the Vapniarka concentration camp in Transnistria and his efforts to treat and manage an outbreak of paralysis of fellow prisoners due to consumption of Lathyrus sativus. Included are biographical materials, correspondence, research notes on Lathyrism, written testimony, writings, and a small amount of photographs. Also included is his unpublished memoir Ein Arzt im Lager (A Camp Physician).

Biographical materials include birth certificates, a marriage certificate, identification cards, Romanian passports, and papers related to Arthur’s medical career. Also included is a document regarding Arthur’s release from jail in Czernowitz in 1942 and an exemption certificate from deportation from Czernowitz in 1942.

Correspondence primarily consists of wartime letters written to his cousin Jacob Granirer in Bucharest, possibly regarding his work with Lathyrism in Vapniarka. There is also a 1946 letter to Arthur from the Bezalel National Museum regarding the exhibition of gifts given to him by fellow prisoners of Vapniarka.

Vapniarka related documents include a list of survivors of the camp living in Israel, notebooks and loose notes regarding Arthur’s work with Lathyrism while in Vapniarka, and typed testimony in German about his experiences there that was likely submitted to Yad Vashem.

Writings consist of articles written by Arthur regarding Lathyrism as well as his unpublished memoir. The articles include a 1963 article in German and an English translation entitled “Vascular diseases by consumption of Lathyrus Sativa” that was never published. Arthur’s unpublished memoir, Ein Arzt im Lager (A Camp Physician) was likely written in the 1960s. In it, he describes his arrest and deportation to Vapniarka, his involvement and observations about the disease afflicting the prisoners, the experiences of Arthur and other prisoners transferred from Vapniarka to the Olgopol ghetto (Olhopil, Ukraine), his return to Romania, reunification with his family, and flight from Romania. The manuscript is typed in German with some handwritten edits. It is split into three chapters: I. Im Lager, II. Im Ghetto, and III. Der Weg Zurück. Chapter II contains some hand illustrations and there are two hand drawn maps after Chapter III.

Photographs consist of pre-war, wartime, and postwar depictions of Arthur and his family. Included is a photograph of Arthur’s parents, Anna and David Kessler; depictions Arthur as a doctor in the Romanian army and in Zwickau, Germany, a 1943 photograph of Arthur in Olgopol with Dr. Moritz, Polia, Dubs, and three other unknown individuals, and an undated photograph with Arthur, Polia Dubs, “Engineer Berkovitz,” Dr. Moritz, and “Engineer Davidovitz.” There are also four post-war photographs of an exhibit on Vapniarka at the Ghetto Fighters’ House in Israel.

inclusive:  circa 1890-1982
bulk:  1922-1947
1 box
2 oversize folders
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of David Kessler
Record last modified: 2022-02-03 10:40:34
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