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Zickel Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25760

Scope and Content Note

The Zickel Family Collection tells the story of the attempted emigration from Germany of Georg, Luise, and Anna Zickel of Berlin as seen through the correspondence of their cousin Lina Factor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The collection has been retained in its original order, with an overview of the collection and documentation of the Zickel family bookending the correspondence that forms the core of the collection.

The first folder of the collection contains a short summary of the documents in the collection and their origin, the events they describe, and the role of the Factor family of Bridgeport in the Zickel siblings' attempted emigration.

Folders 1/2-1/6 hold the collection's correspondence, including documentation used in the Zickel family members' emigration. This correspondence has been retained in the original order in which it was found, primarily arranged chronologically. During processing of the collection the correspondence was placed into folders by year.

Folder 1/2 begins with a letter by Georg Zickel to the Bridgeport branch of the Jewish Welfare Bureau, seeking to reconnect with his cousin Lina Oelsner, who had settled with her parents in Bridgeport. Included are photographs of Lina and her parents. Several of the following letters express the family members' happiness in having found each other again and include summaries of their lives and activities and mention of other family members. Lina Factor's desire to help her cousins emigrate to the United States was immediate and expressed in her first letter of September 16, 1938. Some correspondence and documentation in this folder pertain to the financial standing of the business of Lina's husband, Benjamin Factor. Luise Zickel's letter of December 9, 1938 mentions her reluctance to leave Germany and start over in a new country, although Georg and Anna strongly wished to leave.

The following folder contains letters from 1939. Most of this correspondence focuses on early efforts to acquire transit visas for the Zickel sisters while they waited for their American visas. In addition, Georg's letters show his intent to emigrate to India. By the end of May, Luise wrote Lina that she had to close her school in Berlin. A letter from Georg to Lina on November 6 tells of his internment in India, his new apartment in New Delhi and describes Old Delhi.

Folder 1/4 holds letters from Georg Zickel as well as letters related to the emigration of Lina and Anna Zickel. A letter from Georg of July 29, 1940 tell of his recent marriage, while his letter of February 2, 1941 tells of his second internment, along with his wife. Many of the letters in this folder pertain to Lina Factor's attempts to book passage for Luise and Anna Zickel out of Germany as countries' visa policies changed, but the correspondence also displays the considerable confusion about the changing plans and the sending of funds to Lina for the purchase of passage, made worse by delays in communication. Much of the correspondence pertains to efforts to get the sisters to Japan or India; the early plan for the sisters to join their brother Georg in India were changed in August 1940 when Italy cancelled all transit visas due to the beginning of the war, and the letters begin to discuss the possibility of their travelling across Russia to Yokohama, Japan, and from there proceeding to India. Georg's letter of October 5, 1941 informed Lina that visas to India have been cancelled. Meanwhile, she was corresponding with the shipping company NYK Line (Nippon Yushen Kaisha Line) regarding the booking of passage for the sisters to Yokohama, which eventually proved unsuccessful.

Many of the letters of folder 1/5 relate to efforts to acquire Cuban visas for the Zickel sisters in 1941, made more difficult given the extreme cost of transportation from Berlin to Cuba. Many letters are between Lina and others in the United States regarding the financing of their transportation. The letters mention the impossibility of raising enough funds to get the sisters to Cuba, and the concern that they could only get one sister out of Germany and neither sister would leave the other behind. In November 1941 Lina and her husband borrowed money from a lawyer in New York in order to acquire the funds for the Cuban visas. Letters and telegrams from late November and early December 1941 pertain to the issuing of Cuban visas and landing permits for the sisters, sent to Geneva.

Much of the correspondence of 1942 in folder 1/6 documents the failure of the Cuban visas to reach Luise and Anna Zickel. Lina's draft of a letter of February 3, 1942, indicates her surprise that the sisters had not yet received their Cuban visas, later letters to her from February 1942 indicate that the cables related to the granting of their visas were never sent due to the outbreak of the war in early December. Lina's letter of March 9 to Georg summarizes the confusion of her efforts to secure Luise and Anna's emigration and explains how it failed. A letter of May 11, 1942 informed Lina of the deportation of the Zickel sisters to Poland; her draft of a letter from September 28 provides more details of her efforts to get the sisters out of Germany and her hope that they will survive deportation and be reunited with their brother. It also mentions the loss of a large amount of the funds they had set aside for the sisters' emigration.

The final folder of this collection provides some biographical details about Luise and Anna Zickel. It includes copies of the 1938 German census, showing their residence and birth dates. It also includes Yad Vashem testimony filed by Lina Factor's son for his mother's cousins and two bank books that record funds intended for use in the sisters' emigration.


  • 1938-1992
  • Majority of material found within 1938-1942

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and a small amount of German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

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


Biographical Note

Luise, Anna and George Zickel were born in Breslau, Germany (today Wrocław, Poland) and lived in Berlin, Germany. Luise Zickel had founded a private school for girls in Berlin, and her brother had a gynecological practice, while their younger sister Anna worked as a secretary. The siblings needed American sponsors to escape Nazi Germany and on September 2, 1938 Georg Zickel wrote to the Jewish Welfare Board in Bridgeport, Connecticut in order to reconnect with their cousin, Lina Oelsner who had previously emigrated to Bridgeport with her parents years before, but with whom the Zickels had lost contact.

Lina and her husband, Benjamin Factor, agreed to assist the Zickels in leaving Germany, and spent the next four years attempting to do so. In May 1939 Georg Zickel emigrated to India; he later married there and established a medical practice in New Delhi. In spite of Lina and Benjamin Factor's efforts to secure visas for Luise and Anna, they were unable to do so, and the sisters were deported to Riga in Latvia at some point in early 1942, where they were murdered.


0.25 Linear Feet


The Zickel Family Collection consists primarily of correspondence compiled in the emigration of the siblings Georg, Luise, and Anna Zickel from Nazi Germany, with the aid of their cousin Lina Factor and her husband. It also includes some documentation of biographical data about the Zickel siblings.


This collection is arranged in one series, following its original order.

Separated Material

A book by Marion (Freyer) Wolff, The shrinking circle: memories of Nazi Berlin, 1933-1939 / New York, N.Y., : UAHC Press, [c1989], was removed to the LBI Library, call number DS 135 G5 W585.

Processing Information

The collection has retained its original order.

Guide to the Papers of the Zickel Family 1938-1992 AR 25760
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ZickelFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • August 22, 2018 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States