Lot 142 of 174:
Archive of German Jewish family 1880-2010  

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Large archive of letters, documents, photographs, and other material relating to the life and family of Alfred Schnurmann, a German Jew who managed to emigrate from Germany in 1940, with much correspondence from family members in Palestine and the new state of Israel as well


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Remarkable and highly important archive covering over a century in an era that saw two world wars, the rise of Nazism in Germany, the persecution and eventual genocide of the Jews, the founding of the Jewish state of Israel, and the rise of post-war America into a prosperous superpower. Included in the archive are over 500 letters between family members, friends, acquaintances, and other refugees from Germany, about 150 of them from Palestine and Israel; over 200 documents relating to Alfred Schnurmann and his daughter Marion, including his attempts to emigrate from Germany in the late 1930s; approximately 1000 photographs, 400 or more from Germany before and during World War II; plus various other items, all housed in a wooden trunk measuring 63x92x48 cm. (24¾x36¼x19”). The crucial events of the 20th century are seen through the prism of a Jewish family that fled Nazi Germany, finding refuge in the United States and the new state of Israel. Alfred Ernst Schnurmann was born in 1905 in Mulhouse (Mülhausen), Alsace-Lorraine (then a part of the German Empire) to a prosperous Jewish wool merchant, Leopold Schnurmann, and his wife Julie Schnurmann, nee Lang. He attended school in Mulhouse, and university at Konstanz, and worked as a salesman of textiles and clothing, settling in Berlin. He married Hetta Hertel in 1930, and in 1932 they had a daughter, Marion. Hetta and Alfred divorced in 1936 (she was a gentile, and it seems the stigma of a mixed marriage was too great), and Alfred got custody of the child. Sometime in 1937, being unable to care properly for Marion while working full time, he placed her in an orphanage. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis, so she was transferred to the Wyk orphanage for Jewish girls (Heim des juedischen Frauenbundes, Wyk, Foehr) where there were “healing waters” to aid in her cure. During this time Alfred made efforts to emigrate with Marion, applying for visas to France, Palestine, the United States, and other safe-sounding havens. He tried to prove French ancestry to aid in his quest. Finally, in June of 1940, he received a visa to the United States as part of the “French” quota, Marion was summoned from the orphanage, and they embarked upon the Heyo Maru, traveling to San Francisco via Japan. (It should be noted that shortly after Marion departed the orphanage, it was closed and the girls sent to concentration camps.) In 1939, prior to Alfred’s departure from Germany, his mother, Julie Schnurmann-Lang, and his sisters, Miriam and Alice, had successfully emigrated to Palestine, and their numerous, long, detailed letters are a highly significant part of the archive. Alfred settled in San Francisco, briefly working at the Richelieu Hotel before finding employment with Levi Strauss. In 1945, he got a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad, working for them until his retirement in 1983, at age 78. In 1950, he sent to Germany for his girlfriend Faye (Felicitas Maria Faber). THIS ONLY A PARTIAL ENTRY. CLICK HERE TO GO TO A PDF OF THE FULL ENTRY.

The archive includes, though not limited to: * Binder 1 – Letters to Alfred Schnurmann from relatives and associates, 1936-1949, plus a number of carbons of letters he wrote. Approximately 325 in all. Of these, over 100 are from Palestine and the new state of Israel. * Binder 2 – Letters to Alfred Schnurmann from relatives and associates, 1950-1959 and a few later, plus a number of carbons of letters he wrote. Approximately 110 in all. Of these, about 50 are from Israel. * Binder 3 – Documents and a few photographs relating to family history of Alfred Schnurmann, and his early years, approximately 75 items. Includes letters to and from his father Leopold Schnurmann; a copy photograph of an 1898 family reunion; yearly reviews from school, 1911-1920; 8 confirmations of birth of Alfred’s ancestors, from the Synagogenrat Aldorf Baden, executed in 1939; certificate from 1959 acknowledging his graduation in 1923 from the University of Tubingen; Israeli death certificate for his mother, Julie Schnurmann-Lang, from 1957; several versions of Alfred’s curriculum vitae (lebenslauf), one extended to 1934, and more. * Binder 4 – Documents relating primarily to Alfred’s efforts to emigrate from Germany in the late 1930s, and assimilation in the United States. Approximately 110 documents in all, some contemporary duplicates, plus a few letters. Includes solicitation letter for Jewish Winter Relief, 1936-37; immigration application for Jerusalem, Dec. 5, 1938; application for emigration to Palestine for Alfred Schnurmann and daughter Marion, dated June 24, 1939; document from the Comite d’Assistance aux Enfants Juifs Refugies, denying a request for a visa for a child; Alfred’s U.S. visa application, June 1940; registration form with police, with official rubberstamp; custom form for household items; ration card from 1940; certificate of German citizenship, 1939; numerous notarized marriage and birth certificates from 1938, pertaining to Alfred’s ancestors (in his attempt to demonstrate his French heritage, so as to obtain residence in France); Jewish Emigration Association travel documents to Russia and Japan for Alfred Schurmann and his daughter Marion, showing ship reservations; transit papers for Japan filled out and signed by Schnurmann; document from February 1950 regarding emigration of Faye (Felicitas Maria Faber); photocopy of Alfred and Faye’s marriage certificate, April 1950; various police summons, and many more. * Binder 5 – Letters from and to Marion Schnurmann (later Bond, then Couey). Approximately 80 letters and postcards, and 25 documents relating to her life in Germany and the United States. Includes: Marion’s birth certificate from 1932, with official rubberstamp; 7 letters from Marion at the Wyk orphanage (Heim des juedischen Frauenbundes, Wyk, Foehr), in pencil on small sheets of notepaper, 1 with a note at end by another, with rubberstamp “Kinderhaus der Weiblidhen Fursorge E. D. Frankfort am Main” – also 3 letters and a postcard from Marion but in an adult hand, apparently written for her, dated 1937; 32 letters and postcards written to Marion while she was at the orphanage; 6 typed letters addressed to Alfred Schnurmann, from the Kinderhaus der Weiblidhen Fursorge, Oct. 9, 1939; Marion’s identity card issued by the U.S. Consulate in Berlin, Germany, with a mounted portrait photograph, to go along with her visa, indicating her to be part of the French quota, her father’s attempts at establishing his French heritage having paid off in this instance, dated June 21, 1940; photostatic copy of Marion’s Alien Registration Receipt Card issued by the U.S. Department of Justice; Marion’s certificate of U.S. citizenship, issued in 1951 when she was 18, with a mounted photograph; 4 letters to Marion from family members, including 1 from her grandmother in Israel, 1951; 32 letters, most from her mother Heta Thill in Dusseldorf, Germany, to Marion, a few copies of letters from Marion to Heta, most from the 1960s; and other items. * Binder 6 – Various items relating to Marion’s schoolwork in San Francisco, including graduation certificate from James Lick Junior High School, report cards from Mission High School, class notes, etc. * Binder 7 – Miscellaneous items including documents relating to Alfred Schnurmann’s 38 years’ employment at Southern Pacific before being forced into retirement due to ill health in 1983 at the age of 78. * Photographs – Hundreds, perhaps over one thousand, photographs, plus negatives and slides. Upwards of 400 are from Germany before and during World War II, including many family photographs of Faye Schnurmann, nee Faber, a number with German officers. There is one album containing approximately 70 mounted or loose photographs of Faye in her work with the German weather service launching weather balloons, with many featuring groups of (mostly) women in uniform. Two albums contain “Alfred’s girlfriends, Berlin/Germany 1926-1939,” with approximately 155 photographs of various women, many identified – one has a Star of David stitched onto her dress (evidently some photographs have been removed from the larger album). One folder contains numerous photographs of Alfred’s friends, family and childhood, a number taken in the 1950s in Israel. There are also several later albums recording trips to Israel, Germany, etc. * Miscellaneous items, including: Montage of ration stamps pasted to cardboard, with admonition written on it in crayon: “Kampf dem Verberb, hier erst recht!!” (roughly translated as “fight the decay of our rights here”) – Marion seems to have created this at age 8 in 1940 (one of the ration stamps has rubberstamped date 27 Feb. 1940, others are dated 1939), likely aboard the Heyo Maru on the way to San Francisco; documents and letters relating to the death of Marion’s mother Heta Thill in 1987, and attempts to receive her inheritance; a small number of books including Simon Wiesenthal’s The Murderers Among Us (paperback) and Sails of Hope (hardcover with jacket), each signed, Wir Juden by Joachim Prinz, published in Berlin in 1934, signed by the author on the title-page dated 1959, plus three Babar the Elephant books that were Marion’s, in English; several embroidered items done by Alfred (he was a talented embroiderer) including two sets of matching children's vests/ yamakas; and other items; a silver cup believed was Alfred's as a child and used for Jewish religious services. OFFERED FOR PRIVATE TREATY SALE. PLEASE CONTACT THE GALLERIES.

Lot Amendments

The archive is remarkably well preserved considering its age and history, a treasure trove of original source material worthy of study, research, and preservation. Provenance: Descended in the family, now being sold by the great-granddaughter of Alfred Schnurmann.

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