Levi Family Collection
Scope and Content Note
The Levi Family Collection documents portions of Eric Levi's life, particularly his experiences in Nazi Germany and later return to Germany as part of the 100th Infantry Division of the United States Army, as well as the history of the Thalheimer family of Bensheim, the family of Inge Levi (née Thalheimer).
The first three folders of this collection, including an oversized scrapbook, relate to Eric Levi's attendance at the Peutinger Gymnasium in Ellwangen and to his return to his childhood home during World War II. Included are copies of newspaper clippings about these topics, a letter from a German resident who had been living in the Levi family's former home when Eric came there as an American soldier, and a flyer for the exhibit "Wer war Erich Levi?". There is also a letter of recommendation for Eric from a German employer for whom he worked as a sales intern. The oversized scrapbook primarily relates to Eric Levi's time in Europe as an American soldier, with many newspaper clippings from military newspapers regarding the progression of the war and especially of the 100th Infantry Division as well as many photographs of Eric Levi as a soldier or of locations he visited as one. The newspaper clippings include articles about his return to Ellwangen, and announcements of the deaths of Roosevelt and Hitler, as well as many articles about battles in which the 100th Infantry Division participated. In addition the scrapbook contains some military documents, such as notification of his receiving the Bronze Star for attending to wounded comrades while under heavy enemy fire, and training certificates, as well as some French currency. A few German newspaper clippings from the 1930s are also included. Folder 1/2 contains military papers for Eric Levi, including official letters relating to his instructions for his induction in 1942 and separation in 1946, copies of his enlisted record and honorable discharge, and an address book from this time. Another letter from 1942 approves his eligibility to serve in the military as an alien. Other documents relate to a promotion in rank, financial instructions, a form requesting leave while in France, a booklet about the 100th Infantry Division, and a Rosh Hashanah card sent to him by his parents.
Folder 1/3 holds papers about Inge Levi (née Thalheimer), with much information about the town of Bensheim where the Thalheimers had lived, including genealogical information on the Thalheimers and related families. Included are copies of articles about the Thalheimer and Sternheim families in Bensheim; a copy of Inge Levi's birth certificate; and copies from the town register of Thalheimer family members, with their biographical dates, addresses, and professions; and copies of bills from the Thalheimer family clothing factory. In addition the folder includes correspondence between Inge Levi and the mayor's office in Bensheim regarding a 1989 visit by former Jewish residents and general information about the town and its history.
Other documents about Eric and Inge Levi's later lives may be found in folder 1/4. These include a copy of their marriage license and certificate, a good conduct certificate for Eric Levi prior to a trip to South America, and his death certificate while in Venezuela. Copies of Michael Levi's birth and marriage certificates are also present.
Loose family photographs and a few postcards are located in folder 1/5. Many of these also feature Eric Levi as a soldier in Europe, showing him with his fellow soldiers, or the displaced people he worked with; many of these photographs include his handwritten comments about the photos' subjects. There are also photographs of Nazi events in Ellwangen during the 1930s. A few photographs from the 1920s of children, including young Eric Levi, are included. In addition are a few family photographs from the 1960s and of later generations of the Levi family. Postcards include a postcard sent to Eric from the Graf Zeppelin airship, a postcard sent to him by his parents commemorating January 30, 1933, and a postcard sent by Gustav Herz to his wife from the concentration camp Dachau. Folder 1/5 also contains some German currency (Reichsmark and occupation forces currency).
Correspondence to and from Michael Levi comprises folder 1/6. Much of this correspondence mentions his father's experiences in Ellwangen.
The final folder (1/7) of the collection holds a few notes and a letter concerning Inge Levi's German pension.
- Creation: 1928-2011
- Levi, Michael, 1952- (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and German.
Open to researchers.
Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.
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<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Photograph of Eric Levi during World War II" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=6627781" show="embed" title="Photograph of Eric Levi during World War II"/>
Erich Levi was born on October 3, 1920 in Ellwangen, Germany, the eldest son of the cattle dealer Julius Levi and Melanie Levi née Süssel. He had a younger brother, Max. The town of Ellwangen was known as a center for cattle trading, and his grandfather had also been a cattle dealer. Erich began attending the Peutinger Gymnasium in Ellwangen in 1931, but was forced to leave the school in 1935 for being Jewish. He then apprenticed as a salesman for a shoe factory.
As one of only a few Jewish families in Ellwangen, the family suffered persecution during the 1930s, notably when Nazis drove Julius Levi's cattle into the river Jagst and drowned them, thus ruining the family's livelihood. In 1938 Erich and his parents emigrated to the United States with the help of an aid society since the funds the family had saved for travelling had been confiscated by the local bank. Max Levi had left for England previously on a Kindertransport. Erich altered the spelling of his name to Eric once in the United States. He and his parents settled in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
From 1940-1942 Eric Levi worked as a jewelry polisher. In 1942 he joined the U.S. Army, where he was trained as a combat medic and served in Company D, of the 399th Infantry Regiment of the 100th Infantry Division, seeing combat in France and Germany. He also worked as a translator and interpreter and later had an administrative role. For his actions during combat on November 7, 1944 in eastern France, where he crawled under heavy artillery and mortar fire to save the lives of wounded comrades, he was awarded the Bronze Star. In 1945 he returned to Ellwangen, notably saving the town from planned Allied bombardment by discovering that the SS troops thought to be there were actually stationed north of it. After discovering that the Jewish cemetery where his grandfather was buried had been destroyed, he ordered local Nazis to repair it. He left the Army in January 1946.
On March 16, 1947 Eric Levi married Inge Thalheimer, who had been born in Heidelberg, Germany, the daughter of Hermann and Paula Thalheimer. Prior to emigrating to the United States Hermann Thalheimer had owned a clothing factory in Bensheim, Germany, where the Thalheimer family had a long history. Eric and Inge Levi had one son, Michael, born in 1952. On May 4, 1966 Eric Levi died at the age of 45 in a car accident while on a business trip in Caracas, Venezuela.
In 2002 the Peutinger Gymnasium in Ellwangen created an exhibition with an accompanying book about the last Jewish students at the school. It was called "Wer war Erich Levi?"
0.25 Linear Feet
The Levi Family Collection primarily tells the story of Eric Levi and his family from Ellwangen, Germany, especially focusing on his loss of schooling in Ellwangen and later service in the United States Army during World War II. The collection also includes information on the family of Inge Levi (née Thalheimer), the Thalheimer family of Bensheim. The collection includes many photographs, official documents, newspaper clippings, military records, articles about Eric Levi as well as the Thalheimer family, some correspondence, a scrapbook, and other documentation.
The folders of this collection are arranged alphabetically in one series.
A book about the Jewish students who attended the Peutinger Gymnasium in Ellwangen has been removed from the archival collection to the LBI Library: "Wer war Erich Levi?": Die jüdischen Schüler des Gymnasiums in Ellwangen 1823-1935. This book accompanied an exhibition at the school in 2002.
The collection was rearranged during archival processing in 2018, with folders assigned titles based on content and placed in alphabetical order.
- Guide to the Papers of the Levi Family 1928-2011 AR 25743
- 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 LeviFamily.xml
- December 2018:: Links to digital objects added in Container List.