- Brief Narrative
- Prayer book given to Heinz Stephan Lewy for his 14th birthday by his friend Gerhard Rosenzweig (later Gerry Gerhard) when both youths were living in Quincy, France. They had arrived there on July 4, 1939, Kindertransport from Berlin, Germany, organized to save Jewish children from persecution by the Nazi dictatorship. They had previously lived in the Auerbach orphanage in Berlin. After Germany invaded France in May 1940, the boys and the other refugees fled south, but returned to Quincy after encountering German soldiers. In fall 1940, Quaker aid workers took them to Chateau de Chabannes in unoccupied France. Heinz asked the director to look for his parents and learned they were in the US. After an appeal to President Roosevelt, his parents got Heinz a visa. On June 25, 1942, Heinz arrived in New York, and began using the name Stephan. In August 1943, he was drafted into the US Army and assigned to the 6th Armored Division as an interpreter. Stephen arrived in France in June 1944, saw combat in the Battle of the Bulge, and participated in the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945. The war ended in May and Stephan returned to the US in the fall. After his departure from Chabannes children's home in May 1942, Gerhard and the other older children were arrested and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Gerhard was incarcerated in a number of camps, but survived. After the war, Gerhard emigrated to Los Angeles.
- Siddur Sephat Emeth : Gebetbuch der Israeliten mit deutscher Übersetzung
Frankfurt am Main (Germany)
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Stephan H. Lewy
Lehrberger & Co.
Subject: Stephan H. Lewy
Original owner: Gerry Gerhard
Heinz Stephan Lewy was born on March 11, 1925, in Berlin, Germany, to a Jewish father and Protestant mother, Arthur and Gertrude Puls Lewy. Arthur, born on July 16, 1893, was orphaned at age 7 and lived in the Baruch Auerbach orphanage from 1902-1909. He served in the German army in World War I (1914-1918.) Gertrude was born on October 10, 1897, to Herman and Minna Puls, and had 2 brothers. Arthur and Gertrude married on March 12, 1919. They owned a tobacco shop. Gertrude was sickly and died in early 1931. Arthur could not take care of Heinz by himself, and in early 1932, he placed Heinz in the Auerbach orphanage, where he lived with about 100 other children. Heinz attended a public school and visited his father on Sundays.
In January 1933, Hitler came to power and, by summer, Germany was ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. Because Arthur was a socialist, he was arrested and sent to Oranienburg concentration camp. He was severely beaten, had a heart attack, and lost all his teeth, but was released. The government actively persecuted Jews, and circa 1935, Heinz was no longer allowed to attend public school. He walked 45 minutes to a Jewish school. After leaving school, they were often met by Hitler Youth who whipped Heinz and the other Jewish children with belts. Police stood by, making sure the Jewish students did not defend themselves. Non-Jewish friends stopped playing with him, threatened with reduced rations if they associated with Jews. In early 1938, Arthur married Johanna Arzt (b. 1903). In March 1938, Heinz celebrated his bar mitzvah. After they returned home, Arthur was arrested. He was released later that evening after being presented with a medal for his WWI service. Arthur was forced to sell his business to a non-Jew at a reduced price, but worked illegally at night. Johanna worked as a bookkeeper. November 9-10, 1938, was the Kristallnacht pogrom. Heinz and the other children in the orphanage were locked in the adjoining synagogue for two days. A gas line was cut, but one of the boys broke the windows so they could breathe. After Kristallnacht, Heinz’s maternal uncles cut off contact with him. Arthur was in danger of being arrested again, so he and Johanna devised a warning system. Arthur left the apartment every night and if Johanna put a birdcage in the window, it meant the Gestapo was waiting for him, and he knew not to come back. The family tried to leave and booked passage to the United States, Cuba, and China. Johanna had a relative, Bert Klapper, in Boston who provided an affidavit for a visa, but Arthur failed the health exam because he had high blood pressure and they could not go.
Arthur and Johanna were desperate to get 14 year old Heinz to safety and sent him to France on a Kindertransport on July 4, 1939. He and the other refugees lived in the Quincy-sous-Senart children's home, a castle near Paris. Heinz was put in grade school to learn French. On September 1, 1939, the war began when Germany invaded Poland. Heinz lost contact with his parents. In May 1940, Germany invaded France. Heinz and the other refugees fled south, but returned to Quincy. Their castle had been occupied by German soldiers, who allowed them to stay in exchange for doing chores. In fall 1940, Quaker aid workers took Heinz’s group to Paris, then to Chateau de Chabannes in unoccupied France, to be cared for by the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Society for Rescuing Children). In 1941, Heinz completed training in the leather trade from the Organization for Rehabilitative Training (ORT). Heinz asked the director to contact the Red Cross to find his parents. In early 1942, he learned that they were in Massachusetts. Shortly after Heinz was sent to France, Arthur passed a second health exam, and sailed to the US from Antwerp in February 1940. He and Joanna got an affidavit for Heinz, but his visa was denied until Johanna wrote to President Roosevelt and pleaded that Heinz be granted a visa. On June 7, 1942, Heinz sailed from Casablanca on a Portuguese ship, the Serpa Pinto, with a large group of refugee children. In the middle of the Atlantic, they were boarded by a German submarine, but were allowed to continue. On June 25, they arrived in Brooklyn and Heinz was reunited with his parents.
The family lived in Boston and Heinz Americanized his name to Stephan. He got a job in the office of a mining company. Stephan was considered an enemy alien and had to carry a special passport. In March 1943, Stephan, now 18, registered for the draft. On August 20, he was inducted into the US Army and trained as an interpreter at Camp Ritchie. He became an American citizen after three months of service. In June 1944, he was sent to London and assigned to the 6th Armored Division, Third Army. In mid-June 1944, he deployed to France, where he interrogated German prisoners of war. At the end of March 1945, his unit advanced into Germany. On April 11, 1945, Stephan participated in the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he witnessed walking skeletons and piles of bodies. He assisted aid efforts by translating conversations for medical professionals. He went to a nearby town and to inform the mayor that they were taking 100 civilians to the camp the next day to bury bodies. The Germans denied knowing about the camp. After about three days, his unit moved on to meet Soviet forces in Chemnitz. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, and the war ended in Europe. Stephan, now a staff sergeant, was placed on occupation duty in Aschaffenburg, searching for and arresting former Nazi Party members.
Stephan was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious service as an order of battle analyst and for obtaining information on enemy operations from captured German and French nationals. In July 1945, Stephan was notified that his father Arthur had died of a stroke. He was reassigned to the Pacific theater, but en route, the war ended when Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. Stephan was discharged on November 16, 1945. He returned to his job at the mining company and completed his high school education at night. In 1946, he met Frances Silver (1927-2010), who was from Boston. They married on September 3, 1949. The couple had two children. Stephan graduated from Northeastern University. He worked as a public accountant, then in the hotel business. Stephan frequently tells his story to schools and other groups as a lesson of what might happen if people do not act.
Gerhard Gerhard was born in Berlin Germany in approximately 1925. His father was a cantor. In January 1933, Hitler came to power and, by summer, Germany was ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. By the late 1930s, Gerhard was living in the Baruch Auerbach orphanage with one hundred other children. Since Jewish children were barred from German public schools, they attended a Jewish school about a 45 minute walk from the orphanage. After school, they were met by Hitler Youth arranged in two lines through which the Jewish boys were forced to walk as the Hitler Youth beat them with whips. Police stood nearby, preventing the Jewish children from defending themselves. The orphanage adjoined the community synagogue and Gestapo agents would attend services to monitor the population. On November 9-10, 1938, during the Kristallnacht pogrom, Gerhard and the other children were locked in the synagogue for two days. The gas line to the eternal flame was cut, but one of the boys broke the windows so they could breathe. In July 1939, Gerhard left Germany on a Kindertransport for France. The children were housed in the Quincy-sous-Senart children's home, a castle near Paris. After Germany invaded France in May 1940, the boys and the staff fled south, but returned to Quincy after beng discovered by German troops. Their castle had been occupied by German soldiers, who allowed them to stay in exchange for doing chores. In fall 1940, Quaker aid workers took the group to Paris, then to Chateau de Chabannes in unoccupied France, to be cared for by the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Society for Rescuing Children). In September 1943, Germany occupied southern France. The Germans began to deport stateless Jews to concentration camps. Around this time, Gerhard and the other older children at Chabannes were arrested and eventually sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Gerhard was incarcerated in a number of camps, but survived. After the war, Gerhard emigrated to Los Angeles. He changed his name to Gerry Gerhard.
Books and Published Materials
Books and pamphlets
- Object Type
Prayer books (lcsh)
- Physical Description
- Sewn binding, spine missing ; viii, 319 p. ; 19 cm.
- overall : paper, ink
- inside back cover, cursive, brown ink : Zň [?] 14. O[?] / Rosenzweig
inside front cover, preprinted label : Stephen H. Lewy [US address]
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The prayer book was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Stephan H. Lewy.
- 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:
- 2022-07-28 17:54:15
- This page:
Also in Stephan H. Lewy collection
The collection consists of a camera, a prayer book, documents, photographs, and two memoirs relating to the experiences of Heinz Stephan Lewy before the Holocaust in Berlin, Germany, during the Holocaust in France, and after the Holocaust in the United States.
Date: 1938-approximately 2012
Consists of two pieces of written testimony entitled, "The year 1938....A year in my life I would like to forget," and "Return to Berlin, Germany After 58 Years," both written by Stephan Lewy. "The Year 1938" includes information about acquiring a prayer book and camera, along with images of each item (also part of the donation). Also includes a photograph of boys living in the Auerbach orphanage in Berlin, circa 1905; the train tickets and insurance his father and stepmother purchased to escape from Germany to France in 1939; a 1942 ORT certificate for training undertaken by Stephan in the United States; and materials related to a 1998 OSE reunion.
Agfa 44 box camera, or Preisbox, given to Heinz Stephan Lewy for his bar mitzvah in March 1938 in Berlin, Germany. He took it with him in July 1939 when he left on a Kindertransport to France. When Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933, Heinz was in an orphanage in Berlin, because his father Arthur was unable to care for Heinz by himself. In late 1933, Arthur was arrested because he was a Socialist and sent to Oranienburg concentration camp. He was beaten severely and had a heart attack, but was soon released. On March 11, 1938, Heinz became a bar mitzvah. Arthur was arrested for the day, but released that evening. A relative of Johanna Arzt, Arthur's second wife, sent them an affidavit for a US visa, but Arthur failed a health exam and they could not go. Heinz was placed on a Kindertransport that left July 4, 1939, for France where he lived in Quincy-sous-Sear children's home near Paris. Germany invaded France in May 1940, and that fall, Quaker aid workers took the children to Chateau de Chabannes in unoccupied France. Heinz asked the director to look for his parents and learned they were living in the US. His parents obtained a visa, and on June 25, 1942, Heinz arrived in New York. He Americanized his name to Stephan. In August 1943, he was drafted into the US Army, and assigned to the 6th Armored Division as an interpreter. Stephen arrived in France in June 1944, and advanced with his unit into Germany. He participated in the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945. The war ended in May and Stephan returned to the US in the fall.