In 1933, the year of Hitler's rise to power, approximately 160,000 Jews lived in Berlin, Germany, which was less than 4% of its population. By 1939 an estimated 80,000 Berlin Jews had managed to emigrate. Between 1941 and 1944 more than 60,000 were deported to Eastern European ghettoes and death camps. Only about 7,000 were known to have survived by 1945.
This collection's historic documents tell the story of one Jewish family's miraculous survival amidst the horrors of the Holocaust. Two letters from 1942 (C1, C3) are extremely rare. They order the recipients to report at a date and time, certain to mean transport and death. If obeyed, the recipient was killed. If not obeyed, the recipient most certainly did not retain the letter. It led to the deaths of an estimated 60,000 Jews.
The Loewensteins (Lowenstein after immigration) - Max, Maria, Karin, and Heinrich (Henry) - lived in Berlin and, beginning in 1933, experienced the ever tightening Nazi noose. Like many other Jewish families they tried desperately to find ways to leave Germany. The beginnings of the Holocaust burst forth on Kristallnacht in 1938. Synagogues were burned and thousands of Jews were taken to concentration camps. Many were never seen again.
Thirteen-year-old Henry was lucky to be one of 10,000 children to be saved by the Kindertransport (B11) in 1939. Kindertransports were organized by British aid organizations to bring predominantly German, Austrian, and Czechoslovakian Jewish children to the United Kingdom. Henry was able to reunite with his family in 1947.
Henry's mother Maria, born into a Lutheran family (A7, A8), had occasion to use her status as an Aryan to protect her loved ones. Her courage saved the family from deportation and certain death on numerous occasions. She brought the documents in this collection to America in 1946.
Henry Lowenstein donated them to the Ira M. and Peryle Hayutin Beck Memorial Archives. The collection is located in Penrose Library's Special Collections and Archives. The Lowenstein Family Holocaust Papers collection can be viewed in its entirety in the library's digital repository.
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All material featured was assembled by Maria Lowenstein and donated by her son, Henry Lowenstein.