- The collection documents the Holocaust and post-war experiences of Paul Mayer, originally of Frankfurt am Main, including his forced labor in the Blankenburg am Harz concentration camp in 1945, his father Fritz Mayer’s deportation and death in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943, his immigration to the United States in 1947, and his studies at the University of Cincinnati. Included are biographical materials, immigration papers, correspondence, diaries, an illustrated personal narrative titled Vom Main zum Ohio, and one photograph.
Biographical materials include clippings related to Paul while he was a student at the University of Cincinnati; his education in Germany and apprenticeship with master locksmith Heinrich Thielmann; his studies at the University of Cincinnati; post-war employment at the Reichsbahn; identification papers such as his certificate of identity in lieu of passport and a certificate from his confirmation in 1938; a clipping and poem regarding the death of Paul’s sister Marianne in 1942; and Alice Waeldin’s family genealogy book and business card from a lingerie store she worked at in Germany. There is a document from 1 March 1945 informing Paul that he was to be deported to the Blankenburg am Harz concentration camp for forced labor. Also included are photocopies of documents related to Fritz’s imprisonment and death in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943 including the postcard Paul’s father sent his family, a deposit slip for 40 RM deposited for Fritz, and the postcard received in 1943 informing Alice that Fritz had died of myocarditis.
Immigration papers include Paul’s Emigration Assembly Center ticket and embarkation card, inventory of items he was bringing with him, his ticket for the USS Ernie Pyle, Selective Service documents, and naturalization certificate.
Correspondence includes two post-war letters to Paul and Heinz from their mother Alice, and a postcard from his former pastor.
Writings include three diaries spanning 1945-1950, a book of poetry, and an illustrated personal memoir Vom Main zum Ohio, that chronicles Paul’s Holocaust experiences and his immigration to the United States.
Photographs consist of a photo of Paul at his confirmation in March 1938.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Virginia Mayer
- Collection Creator
- Paul G. Mayer
Paul Gustav Wilhelm Mayer (1923-1983) was born on 3 November 1923 in Fechenheim, a suburb of Frankfurt am Main, Germany to Friedrich Mayer (Fritz, 1888-1943) and Alice Lucy Waeldin (1897-1977). Paul’s Jewish father met his Protestant mother while studying in Straßburg. Fritz was a World War I veteran and opened a shop selling textiles and home goods in Frankfurt am Main around 1919. Paul had five siblings: Marianne (1915-1942), Margarete (1921-2000), Helga (1922-1982), Heinz Helmut (1924-2001), and Gretel.
After the Nazi rise to power Fritz’s business was impacted by punitive anti-Jewish laws. He attempted to put the business in Alice’s name, but was unsuccessful. Paul became a locksmith apprentice at 15, and his older siblings began working to support the family. After Kristallnacht in November 1938 Fritz was arrested and sent to Buchenwald until his release in February 1939. Despite pressure to do so, Alice refused to divorce Fritz. He was also subjected to forced-labor.
Paul identified as a Christian, and was confirmed in 1938. He was also a gifted athlete and continued to play on a regional soccer team using a false name to conceal his Jewish ancestry.
In 1942, Paul’s sister Marianne died of an untreated infection. In January 1943 Fritz was arrested by the Frankfurt Gestapo and imprisoned until his deportation to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. He was able to send his family a single postcard before they were informed he died on 25 August 1943, allegedly from myocarditis.
In March 1945 Paul and his brother Heinz were arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Blankenburg am Harz concentration camp in the Harz Mountains as forced laborers. As Allied forces approached the brother escaped, but were fired upon. One of the books Paul was carrying stopped a bullet that would have otherwise hit him.
After the war Paul was trained and employed by the Reichsbahn. In 1947, with assistance from the American Christian Committee for German Refugees, Paul and Heinz immigrated to the United States aboard the USS Ernie Pyle. They settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Alice, Margarete, and Helga joined them two years later. Paul enrolled in the Engineering College at the University of Cincinnati. He went on to receive his masters and doctorate degrees from Cornell University. While at Cornell, Paul met his future wife Virginia. They married in Ithaca. In 1959 he became a professor at Georgia Tech. He died shortly after his retirement in 1985. Paul and Virginia had four children: Frederick, Marianne, Laura, and Donald.
3 oversize folders
- System of Arrangement
- The collection is arranged as five series.
Series 1. Biographical material, 1938-1982
Series 2. Immigration, 1947-1952
Series 3. Correspondence, 1947-1952 and undated
Series 4. Diaries and other writings, 1944-1950
Series 5. Photographs, 1938
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.
- Copyright Holder
- Mrs. Virginia Mayer
Keywords & Subjects
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2019 by Virginia Mayer, widow of Paul Mayer.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-05-24 15:40:35
- This page:
Also in Paul Mayer collection
The collection consists of diaries, artwork, books, documents, clippings, and correspondence pertaining to the experiences of Paul Mayer and his family, formerly of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and later of the United States.
German hymnal and prayer book embossed with the name of Emma Ertz and the date 1886.
Technical computing book by Hans R. Rode, published in Berlin in 1933 by the Verlagsgesellschaft des Deutschen Metallarbeitersverbandes.