Memoirs, Diaries, Scrapbooks, and Correspondence

Digibaeck includes thousands of unpublished memoirs that chronicle Jewish life in Germany and in emigration. These documents offer first-hand accounts of experiences as diverse as the revolutions of 1848, persecution, emigration, and the Holocaust, the Kindertransport, and the participation of German Jews in the American civil rights movement of the 1960′s.

Browse highlights below and click on an image to view related items in DigiBaeck.

Slave Girl, French Morocco Marrakesh, by Lene Schneider Kainer

Slave Girl, French Morocco Marrakesh, by Lene Schneider Kainer

In 1926 the artist Lene Schneider Kainer left Berlin after her divorce from Ludwig Kainer and for two years accompanied the poet Bernhard Kellermann on an extended odyssey retracing the steps of Marco Polo, which they reported on for the Berliner Tageblatt. Kainer produced a diary and hundreds of drawings and watercolors that portray daily life in countries across the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Asia, with a special focus on the lives of women, all of which have been digitized.

Andy Duncan Brown, a Kindertransport Child

Andy Duncan Brown, a Kindertransport Child

DigiBaeck also contains extensive materials that document the lives of about 10,000 German and Austrian children who were sent to live with foster families in England beginning in 1938. Andy Duncan Brown was the son of the artists Anne Ratkowski-Wanger and Niklaus Braun and was sent to live with the Artiss family in Birmingham England.

Excerpt of a letter from Mary Artiss to Anne Ratkowski, Nov. 21, 1939

Excerpt of a letter from Mary Artiss to Anne Ratkowski, Nov. 21, 1939

One common genre of correspondence in DigiBaeck is letters between Kindertransport children, their foster parents, and the childrens' parents trapped in continental Europe. In this letter from Andy Duncan Brown's foster mother, Mary Artiss to Brown's mother, Anne Ratkowski, Ms. Artiss discusses Ms. Ratkowski's prospects for emigrating to New York and reports that she has bought three books for Andy, who was had just turned 9 years old. The books were, "The Wind in the Willows", "Huckleberry Finn", and "Treasure Island."

From the Childhood Diary of Helen Hesse

From the Childhood Diary of Helen Hesse "Rosh Hashanah 5699 - We are Emigrating"

Wilhelm and Ruth Hesse of Hamburg kept detailed diaries documenting the childhood years of their daughters Helen (b. 1933) and Eva (b. 1936). The girls were sent to Holland in 1938. Their parents joined them the next year and the entire family emigrated to New York, where Eva became a celebrated visual artist.

Shanghai ID card of the artist David Ludwig Bloch

Shanghai ID card of the artist David Ludwig Bloch

Between 1936 and 1949 Shanghai was the last refuge to 20,000 German and Austrian Jews, who flocked to the only place in the world that didn’t require a visa. Many archival collections and memoirs in DigiBaeck deal with this experience.

Walter Plaut's Notebooks from the

Walter Plaut's Notebooks from the "Freedom Ride" of 1961

In 1961 Rabbi Walter Plaut (b. 1919 in Berlin) of Temple Emanuel in Great Neck, N.Y. was among the first American clergymen to join the fight for civil rights. He participated in the “Freedom Ride” organized by the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961. His scrapbook of the experience, digitized by LBI, includes this notebook, in which he outlined the principles of non-violent action.

Agenda 1848, Diary of Henriette Meyer Mendelssohn

Agenda 1848, Diary of Henriette Meyer Mendelssohn

Henriette Mendelssohn was the wife of Joseph Mendelssohn, the eldest son of Moses Mendelssohn and founder of the banking house of Mendelssohn and Co. In this diary from 1848, fully transcribed and translated in DigiBaeck, she describes daily life during the tumultuous year of revolution in Germany. Entries range from the mundane (“today migraines”) to the historically significant (“loud unrests in the streets”.)

Threatening Letter Received by Ludwig Misch of Berlin, April 14, 1943

Threatening Letter Received by Ludwig Misch of Berlin, April 14, 1943

Ludwig Misch was a musicologist who survived World War II and the Holocaust in Berlin because he was married to an “Aryan” woman. Shut out of academic positions, he worked with the Jewish Cultural Federation (Jüdischer Kulturbund) and sought help from prominent Germans such as the conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. A Nazi party official who lived in his building sent him this threatening letter, asking him to remove his deck chairs from the "Aryan" section of the building's air raid shelter.

In 1926 the artist Lene Schneider Kainer left Berlin after her divorce from Ludwig Kainer and for two years accompanied the poet Bernhard Kellermann on an extended odyssey retracing the steps of Marco Polo, which they reported on for the Berliner Tageblatt.  Kainer produced a diary and hundreds of drawings and watercolors that portray daily life in countries across the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Asia, with a special focus on the lives of women, all of which have been digitized.DigiBaeck also contains extensive materials that document the lives of about 10,000 German and Austrian children who were sent to live with foster families in England beginning in 1938.  Andy Duncan Brown was the son of the artists Anne Ratkowski-Wanger and Niklaus Braun and was sent to live with the Artiss family in Birmingham England.One common genre of correspondence in DigiBaeck is letters between Kindertransport children, their foster parents, and the childrens' parents trapped in continental Europe.  In this letter from Andy Duncan Brown's foster mother, Mary Artiss to Brown's mother, Anne Ratkowski,  Ms. Artiss discusses Ms. Ratkowski's prospects for emigrating to New York and reports that she has bought three books for Andy, who was had just turned 9 years old.  The books were, "The Wind in the Willows", "Huckleberry Finn", and "Treasure Island."Wilhelm and Ruth Hesse of Hamburg kept detailed diaries documenting the childhood years of their daughters Helen (b. 1933) and Eva (b. 1936).  The girls were sent to Holland in 1938.  Their parents joined them the next year and the entire family emigrated to New York, where Eva became a celebrated visual artist.Between 1936 and 1949 Shanghai was the last refuge to 20,000 German and Austrian Jews, who flocked to the only place in the world that didn’t require a visa.  Many archival collections and memoirs in DigiBaeck deal with this experience.In 1961 Rabbi Walter Plaut (b. 1919 in Berlin) of Temple Emanuel in Great Neck, N.Y. was among the first American clergymen to join the fight for civil rights.  He participated in the “Freedom Ride” organized by the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961.  His scrapbook of the experience, digitized by LBI, includes this notebook, in which he outlined the principles of non-violent action.Henriette Mendelssohn was the wife of Joseph Mendelssohn, the eldest son of Moses Mendelssohn and founder of the banking house of Mendelssohn and Co.  In this diary from 1848, fully transcribed and translated in DigiBaeck, she describes daily life during the tumultuous year of revolution in Germany.  Entries range from the mundane (“today migraines”) to the historically significant (“loud unrests in the streets”.)Ludwig Misch was a musicologist who survived World War II and the Holocaust in Berlin because he was married to an “Aryan” woman.  Shut out of academic positions, he worked with the Jewish Cultural Federation (Jüdischer Kulturbund) and sought help from prominent Germans such as the conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. A Nazi party official who lived in his building sent him this threatening letter, asking him to remove his deck chairs from the "Aryan" section of the building's air raid shelter.

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