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.
The historic documents in the Lowenstein Family Papers and Art collection tell the story of one Jewish family's miraculous survival amidst the horrors of the Holocaust. Two exceedingly rare documents from 1942 served as eviction notices. They order the recipients to report at a certain date and time to a government building in Berlin. In reality the notice was a summons of deportation to death camps. If obeyed, the recipient was killed. If not obeyed, the recipient most certainly did not retain the letter. That notice led to the deaths of an estimated 60,000 Jews.
The Loewensteins (Lowenstein after immigration) - Max, Maria, Karin, and 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 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, used her Aryan status 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 the Anderson Academic Commons, Special Collections and Archives.
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All material featured was assembled by Maria Lowenstein and donated by her son, Henry Lowenstein.