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Gerda Lerner Family Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25149 / MF 1008

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains materials related to several members of the Kronstein/Neumann/Mueller families; both original documents as well as additional biographical information and excerpts from Gerda Lerner's book "A Death of One's Own". The bulk consists of correspondence, mainly written from Ilona Kronstein's exile in Nice to her daughter Gerda in the United States. In one letter, Ilona Kronstein describes a brief stay in the Gurs camp. Most of the correspondence has been summarized by John and Eva Englander, the summaries are included in the folders.

Dates

  • 1939-1978

Creator

Language of Materials

This collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Collection is digitized.

Collection is microfilmed; use MF 1008.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

Biographical Note

Ilona Kronstein (nee Neumann) was born in Budapest in 1897 to Sigmund Neumann and Emma Deutsch. In 1918, she met Robert Kronstein. The couple married a year later and moved to Vienna. They had two daughters: Gerda, born in 1920, and Nora, born in 1925. Between 1928 and 1933 Ilona studied art with Johannes Itten. She opened her own studio in 1933. In 1938, after several weeks in a Gestapo prison, she fled with her two daughters, Gerda and Nora, to Liechtenstein, where her husband was already waiting. After a few months in Vaduz, she went to a small town near Nice and solely devoted herself to art. It was in Nice that she became friends with the painter Rudolf Ray. In 1940 she was detained in the concentration camp at Gurs for several weeks and from 1941 onwards she began to show signs of multiple sclerosis. Her family managed with great difficulty to get her back to Liechtenstein in 1942 and to obtain medical assistance for her in Switzerland. She died in Zurich in 1948.

In 2000, the Jewish Museum Vienna exhibited drawings and pastels by Ilona Kronstein, which her daughters Gerda Lerner and Nora Kronstein-Rosen donated to the museum in 1997.

Ilona's sister Margit Neuer (born 1899) was a physician and perished in Auschwitz. Her second sister Klara (born 1903) married Alexander Mueller, a psychiatrist and close co-worker of Alfred Adler. As a stateless person he was denied residence in several countries and forcibly sent across the border back to Germany, until he finally obtained residence in Holland. After the Nazi takeover of the Netherlands, he and his wife fled to Budapest, where they survived the Russian siege and he survived Eichmann's death march to Austria. After the end of the war they first returned to The Netherlands, then found refuge in Switzerland, where Alexander Mueller accepted a position at the University of Zuerich. He died in 1968.

Elizabeth Breznitz, née Klein, was born in Léva (then Hungary, today Levice, Slovakia). Her first husband, Leo Kalmer, died in a concentration camp in Bavaria; she was liberated from Auschwitz in 1945, but her father and her stepmother perished. After the war she lived in Plzen, Czech Republic. Her letters are of great interest to understand the daily life of a Holocaust survivor in Czechoslovakia.

Gerda Kronstein came to the US in 1939, where she married Carl Lerner in 1941. She received her Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1966. She is one of the founders of women's history and a former President of the Organization of American Historians. In 1972, she founded the first graduate (M.A.) program in women's history in the US at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1980 she founded the first PH.D. program in women's history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has won many honors, including 17 honorary degrees and is the author of 13 books.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet

Abstract

The collection contains materials related to several members of the Kronstein/Neumann/Mueller families; both original documents as well as additional biographical information and excerpts from Gerda Lerner's book "A Death of One's Own". The bulk consists of correspondence, mainly written from Ilona Kronstein's exile in Nice to her daughter Gerda in the United States. In one letter, Ilona Kronstein describes a brief stay in the Gurs camp. Most of the correspondence has been summarized by John and Eva Englander, the summaries are included in the folders.

Microfilm

Collection is available on 1 reel of microfilm (MF 1008).

Related Material

The Gerda Lerner Papers are on deposit at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute. See also the Nora Kronstein-Rosen Family Collection at the LBI (AR 25257).

Bibliography

Austrian Heritage Collection
Title
Guide to the Gerda Lerner Family Collection, 1939-1978 AR 25149 / MF 1008
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by LBI Staff
Date
© 2009
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • September 2010:: Links to digital objects added in Container List.
  • 2010-09-20 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States