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Rosendahl and Blasbalg family papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2013.480.1

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    Rosendahl and Blasbalg family papers

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    Correspondence, telegrams, passports, immigration and naturalization documents, birth certificates, educational records, and other documents, related to the immigration of Ernst and Jenny Rosendahl (Blasbalg) from Germany to France, and then the United States; the immigration of Mrs. Rosendahl's sister, Gerda Miller, first to Palestine and then to Britain and the United States; and attempts to help their father, Fritz Blasbalg, emigrate from Germany, and then from German-occupied Netherlands, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

    The files concerning Fritz Blasblag primarily contain correspondence with his daughter and son-in-law pertaining to the latter’s efforts to obtain a visa for Blasbalg from 1939-1941. Blasbalg describes conditions in Berlin, and then after his expulsion from Germany in 1939, the Netherlands, including living conditions in the latter location, discussions of possible places that he could immigrate to (including Britain, China, and the United States), and various strategies and attempts to secure documentation. In one letter to his daughter, Blasbalg also enclosed a handwritten copy of a letter he had received from his brother Emil, when the latter was interned at Gurs and appealing for help. Remaining correspondence in this series consists of telegrams and correspondence with Cuban and American consular officials, shipping companies, and attorneys, all related to the efforts to help Blasbalg leave Europe.

    The papers of Gerda (Blasbalg) Miller consist primarily of immigration documentation, papers related to her university studies in New York in the 1950s, and her work as an educator and director of a Jewish pre-school in New York from the 1950s to the 1970s. Also included is a brief memoir that Miller began to compile shortly before her death in 2003. The files related to Ernst Rosendahl and Jenny (Blasbalg) Rosendahl document their studies of law in Berlin and Heidelberg, their admittance—and later expulsion—from the Kammergericht in Berlin, and their business and professional activities in France and the United States from the 1930s to the 1950s, including Ernst Rosendahl’s business ventures in West Germany after 1950. The Rosendahls’ files contain immigration and identification documents, and Ernst Rosendahl’s files also contain an affidavit written in the 1950s, providing a detailed list of his political contacts and activities, first in Germany, and then in exile, in an apparent defense against charges of having been a Communist sympathizer.
    inclusive:  1906-2003
    bulk:  1937-1946
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Peter Rosendahl
    Collection Creator
    Rosendahl-Blasbalg family
    Fritz Blasbalg was born on July 31, 1874 in Glogau, Poland. He came to Berlin sometime around 1884, and eventually—with other members of his extended family—worked in a family-owned shoe factory. In 1906, he married Else Lissauer, and they settled in Berlin-Friedrichshain, where their two daughters, Jenny and Gerda, were born in 1910 and 1913. Gerda, in a later memoir, said that her father’s heart was not so much in business, as it was in service to the Jewish community, in which he was quite active (according to Gerda’s memoir manuscript, there were other siblings, but no other documentation of them is in this collection).

    Jenny, after completing her primary and secondary education at the Sophienschule and passing the Abitur, studied law at the Friedrich Wilhelm Universität in Berlin and the University of Heidelberg, from 1928-1931. She passed the state examination of the Kammergericht in 1931, and began to practice law in Berlin. After the rise to power of the Nazis, her license to practice law was revoked on the basis of anti-Jewish laws in August 1933. By that time, however, she had left Germany with her fiancé, Ernst Rosendahl, who she subsequently married in November 1933.

    Rosendahl, a native of Westphalia, was born in Schwelm on May 31, 1907, and after completing his secondary education in his hometown, he studied law and economics at the universities in Frankfurt am Main and in Berlin. He also passed the state examination of the Kammergericht in 1930, enabling him to practice law, which he did in Berlin and Schwelm for the next three years, until his license was revoked as a result of anti-Jewish legislation. Prior to that, he had been active politically as a socialist, and as a result, the Gestapo sought to arrest him in May 1933. Alerted by a friend from his home town, he fled to Paris, where he found a job as a sales representative for a firm that sought to market French manufactured goods in Eastern Europe. In this capacity, Rosendahl made frequent trips to the Soviet Union in the mid-1930s until it was no longer safe for him to do so. At that time, he took a job with a French wine retailer, as a representative selling their products in the United States. Eventually he and Jenny Rosendahl immigrated to the United States in 1937, settling in New York, where Ernst worked as a wine and liquor importer until 1950, and Jenny took a job as a representative of the French art magazine Verve, where she was responsible for the sales, distribution and publicity for this magazine in the United States. In the 1950s, Rosendahl returned with his family to West Germany, where Ernst worked with the Westinghouse Corporation to establish laundromats through the country, and to import American-made home appliances.

    After the death of his wife Else in 1937, Fritz Blasbalg began to explore the idea of emigrating from Germany, with the hope of rejoining his daughter and son-in-law in the United States. The Rosendahls began exploring various means of obtaining a visa for him, but in early 1939, Fritz—as a Polish-born resident of Germany—received notice that he would be expelled from the country. Although he was able to postpone this expulsion for several months, he left Berlin in August 1939, just days before the outbreak of war. Intending to go to Britain, he was forced off of a ship in Rotterdam in September 1939, and remained in that city for the next year, until moving to another city in the Netherlands, Meppel. It was from there that he remained in frequent contact with his daughter in New York, until they were finally successful in obtaining a visa to travel to Cuba in November 1941, and tickets were purchased for this trip. The outbreak of war between the Axis powers and the United States in December 1941 prevented Fritz from going to Cuba, though, and in 1942 he was arrested and sent to Westerbork, and then in October 1942 was sent on a transport to the east, and presumed to have been killed at Auschwitz. While living in the Netherlands, Fritz Blasbalg had also received word from his brother, Emil, who lived in Brussels prior to the war, asking for help after his arrest and imprisonment at St. Cyprien and Gurs following the German invasion of Belgium. Emil Blasbalg was ultimately sent to the Drancy transit camp, and from there to Auschwitz in September 1942, where he was presumed to have been killed.

    In the meantime, Gerda, who had begun her studies at the university in Berlin during the 1930s, had to withdraw due to the expulsion of Jewish students, and at this point (around 1936), she traveled to Yugoslavia to train at a hachsharah in order to eventually settle in Palestine and work on a farm, which she did. After the start of World War II, she was drafted into the British Army, operating a gas station on the border of Egypt and Palestine, where she met her future husband, a British officer named Anthony Williams, who she married in Cairo in 1944. She eventually joined him in Britain, but was divorced from him in 1950. She immigrated to the United States shortly after that, settling in New York, where she married Morris Miller, obtained a bachelor’s and then master’s degree in education at Hunter College, and then directed the nursery school at Congregation Rodeph Sholom until her retirement in the early 1970s, when she moved to Berkeley, California, where she died in December 2003.

    Physical Details

    German English French
    1 box
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged in four series: I. Blasbalg, Fritz and Else; II. Miller, Gerda; III. Rosendahl, Ernst; and IV. Rosendahl, Jenny (Blasbalg), and folders are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title within each series.

    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

    Peter Rosendahl donated the Rosendahl and Blasbalg family papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:41:50
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