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Certificate of Citizenship document case belonging to German Jewish prewar emigre

Object | Accession Number: 2012.455.8

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    Certificate of Citizenship document case belonging to German Jewish prewar emigre

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Folding citizenship certificate case that belonged to Dr. Leo Nast, a chemical engineer, who left Hamburg, Germany, for the United States in July 1934. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Leo had long opposed the politics of Hitler and the Nazi Party and Leo and his wife Bertha decided to leave Germany. Their immigration was sponsored by the Catalin Corporation, a plastics company that employed Leo after his arrival in the US. The Nazi dictatorship enacted anti-Jewish laws and the persecution of Jews grew increasingly harsh. In 1939, Leo arranged for his mother, Frederica, to come to the US. In May 1940, he sponsored the immigration of his niece, Johanna Cohn, her husband Arthur, and their 18 year old daughter Irma, from Breslau, Germany.
    Date
    received:  approximately 1940
    Geography
    issue: United States
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Irma Cohn Clemens
    Contributor
    Subject: Leo Nast
    Biography
    Leo Nast was born on October 3, 1885, in Schulitz, Germany. He had a sister, Frederica, and the family was Jewish. He attended Heidelberg University and studied chemistry. He became interested in the production of plastics and, at the age of twenty, received a patent for the creation of his first plastic. Leo received his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1912 and became a chemical engineer. He moved to Cologne and worked at a plastics factory. During World War I (1914-1918), he served in intelligence for the German Army. Leo married Berte (Bertha) Kautz, who was born in 1889 in Cologne. After the war, Leo moved to Hamburg to work at the Triton Works company.

    In January 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany. Anti-Jewish laws were enacted to disenfranchise Jewish people. Leo and Bertha decided to leave Germany. The Catalin Corporation of America wished to hire Leo and sponsored their immigration visas. They left London on board the SS Manhattan and arrived in New York on July 14, 1934. Leo worked for the Catalin Corp. in New Jersey. In 1935, he helped found the Superlithe Corporation in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1936, Leo became the vice president, treasurer, and technical director at the Universal Plastics Corporation in New Brunswick.

    During the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938, Jewish synagogues and businesses all over Germany were vandalized and there were mass arrests of Jewish males. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Leo wished to get his sister, Frederica, out of Germany. He needed to be a US citizen to sponsor her, but was a few months short of the five year minimum residency required to apply for American citizenship. Leo applied anyway, explaining his family circumstances. With the help of the governor of New Jersey, he was able to obtain her visa and she arrived in the US in 1939. Leo and Bertha became naturalized American citizens that year. In 1940, Leo sponsored the emigration of Frederica’s daughter Johanna Cohn, her husband Arthur, and eighteen year old daughter Irma, who lived in Breslau, Germany. Arthur was born in Switzerland and obtained a Swiss visa, which also covered Johanna and Irma. The family arrived in America in May 1940. They stayed with Leo at first, who also provided Arthur got a job at the plastics company. Leo and Bertha later moved to Delaware. Bertha, age 74, died in 1963. Leo, age 78, died in July 1964.

    Physical Details

    Language
    English
    Classification
    Containers
    Category
    Cases
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, fiberboard, trifold document case covered with black textured plastic. The top flap closes and is snapped to the middle flap which folds inward along the upper edge. This creates a small flap on the lower edge of the case interior with black plastic snap caps in each corner which snap closed on the interior. The interior is lined with light brown, patterned, shiny cloth. The plastic folds around the and is sewn to the interior edges with black thread. The top flap has English text stamped in gold in the center and scroll designs with fleurs de lis impressed in the lower corners.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.500 inches (8.89 cm) | Width: 9.000 inches (22.86 cm) | Depth: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm)
    Materials
    overall : fiberboard, plastic, cloth, metal, thread, paint
    Inscription
    front center, stamped, gold ink: CERTIFICATE OF CITIZENSHIP
    snap sockets, engraved : FCUU
    snap studs, back, engraved : UNITED CARR

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The document case was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Irma Cohn Clemens, the great-niece of Dr. Leo Nast.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-09-27 13:58:13
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn73207

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