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Hecht and Gottschalk Family Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 5605

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the personal papers of members of the Hecht, Günther, Gottschalk, and Bielefeld families. The bulk of the material consists of personal papers, such as correspondence, family trees, vital records, apprenticeship and journeyman papers, military records from World War I and World War II, emigration documents, friedship books (Poesiealben), photographs, a diary, and a Hebrew primer. Also included are documents related to the restitution claims of the Günther family and Lili Hecht née Bielefeld, including property records, legal papers, and correspondence.

The bulk of the materials are listed below by the individual or family to which they primarily correspond. The materials related to Alfred and Johanna Bielefeld consist of correspondence with their daughter Lili Hecht in 1942 and certificates of their deaths. Hans Ludwig Bielefeld’s papers include correspondence and official records of his divorce and emigration. Herbert Gottschalk’s papers include a few pieces of correspondence and materials he collected during his U.S. Army service, including photographs of the synagogue in Bad Neuheim during the Rosh Hashanah celebration of 1945. Also included in Herbert Gottschalk’s folders are a few pieces of anti-American and anti-British Nazi propaganda and a small publication of an eyewitness account of the liberation of Buchenwald written by F.M.S. Miller, a colonel in the U.S. Army. There is also a certificate of honor signed by Adolf Hitler in 1943; this was not awarded to anyone in the families in this collection but rather seems to have been found by Herbert Gottschalk during his time in the U.S. Army. The Hecht family papers in box 1, folder 9 contain official documents from the nineteenth century related to the emigration of Josef Hecht to the United States and to the Hecht family inheritance. Jakob Hecht’s papers consist mainly of official documents related to his apprenticeship and journeyman years as well as a contract with an insurance company named Schweizerische Unfallsversicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft. Siegfried (Fred) Hecht’s papers include vital records, education records, financial and tax records, divorce papers from Emma née Kahn, and papers related to his emigration to the United States. The materials related to Siegfried Hecht’s military service during World War I include an oversized map of the area of the Russian Empire around Wischnew (now Vishneva, Belarus) and materials related to the celebration of Passover in Lida in 1917.

The family trees in box 2, folder 12 show the familial connection of the Hecht, Günther, Gottschalk, and Bielefeld families. This folder also includes a short narrative about the history of the Bielefeld family. The diary in box 2, folder 11 is comprised of loose pages that are numbered to indicate their order. Written between August 1939 and April 1940, it tells the story of emigration via England to the United States. The identity of the writer is not clear. The entries tend to be long and encompass the events of several days at a time. The Hebrew primer, titled Hebräisch in 45 Stunden (Hebrew in 45 Lessons), was published by J. Rznicov in 1933 and contains some handwritten notes.

The Günther family restitution materials show the efforts of Herbert Gottschalk, Inge Levy, and Frederick Günther to reclaim and sell family property stolen by the Nazi regime. Lili Hecht née Bielefeld’s restitution claims are related to the deaths of her parents and her aunt Leontine Wolff, who also perished in the Holocaust.

Both the loose photographs and those in the album mainly depict leisure activities of the members of the Hecht and Bielefeld families, primarily Siegfried and Lili Hecht. Also included are some World War I photographs, mainly of soldiers posed both formally and casually.

Dates

  • 1957-1980

Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English with a few documents in Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

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.

Biographical Note

The Hecht, Günther, Gottschalk, and Bielefeld families trace common roots back to Simon Hecht, who was born in 1807 in Kaub, Germany.

Simon Hecht was the fifth of seven children of Mordechai Caub of Kaub, Germany and his wife Baile (Bella). He was a clothing merchant. Simon Hecht married Klara Kramer (born 1820), and the couple had eight children.

Simon and Klara Hecht’s eldest daughter, Johanna (Hannchen), married into the Günther family of Burgen, Germany and had five children, Isidor, Frederick (Fritz), Thilde, Bertha, and Karl. Isidor Günther (1883-1942) married Klara née Kasel. Frederick Günther (died 1958) married Helene née Scheer. Thilde Günther would take on the married name Aronstein, and Bertha Günther took the married name Gottschalk. The Günther family owned land and buildings in Burgen, Germany, a small city on the Mosel River near Koblenz. This property was seized by the Nazis in the 1930s. By the 1950s and 1960s when the family claimed restitution, Inge Levy née Aronstein and Herbert Gottschalk were the heirs to the Günther estate.

Simon and Klara Hecht’s son Jakob Hecht (1853-1901) became a clothing merchant like his father. Jakob married Therese née Meyer (born 1863), whose father Feist (alternatively Ferdinand) Meyer had served in the military in Nassau, Germany in the 1850s.

Jakob and Therese Hecht had a son, Siegfried Max Hecht (alternatively Fritz, later Fred, 1892-1970). Siegfried Hecht became a merchant and served in the German military during World War I. Siegfried and his wife Emma née Cahn divorced in 1939, and he immigrated to the United States in 1940, where he took on the name Fred. He settled in New York City and became a jewelry salesman. In December of 1944, he and Lili née Bielefeld (1904-1977) were married.

The Bielefeld family can be traced back to the late 18th century. The family lived in Karlsruhe, Mainz, and Mannheim until the 1930s, when some members immigrated to the United States. Lili Hecht née Bielefeld was the daughter of Alfred Bielefeld, a wine merchant, and Johanna Bielefeld née Seligmann. Despite efforts to procure passage to the U.S., both Alfred and Johanna perished in the Holocaust. Alfred died in Theresienstadt, and Johanna was deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, where she perished.

Lili Hecht née Bielefeld’s brother Hans Ludwig Bielefeld (1902-1948) was a merchant. He married Lilli née Kiritz in 1933, and the couple divorced in 1936. Hans Ludwig immigrated to the United States under the sponsorship of his cousin, Irma Rosenfeld, and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked in insurance. After his death, his sister Lili Hecht née Bielefeld was the sole heir to the Bielefeld family property, which she claimed in the 1960s alongside restitution for her parents’ deaths.

Herbert Gottschalk (1917-1985) was an industrial engineer. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943-1946. His wife Eleanor Gottschalk née Oppenheimer (1921-1982) worked as a secretary. The couple lived in New York City and Connecticut. As mentioned above, Herbert Gottschalk became one of the heirs to the Nazi-seized Günther family property, for which he claimed restitution in the 1950s and 1960s alongside other family members of the Günther side of the greater Hecht family tree.

Extent

1 Linear Feet (2 manuscript boxes + 1 oversize folder)

Abstract

This collection contains the personal papers of members of the Hecht, Bielefeld, Günther, and Gottschalk families. Materials range widely in time period and content, providing insight into varied experience of these families from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. Materials include vital records, emigration records, apprenticeship and journeyman records for a merchant, education records, letters of recommendation, personal correspondence, military records from World War I and World War II, restitution claims, property records, tax and financial records, friendship books (Poesiealben), documents related to religious services during military service, family trees, photographs, a diary about emigration, and a Hebrew primer.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by individual or family name. Where materials could not be connected to a single individual or family, they were arranged by document type and are listed at the end of the container list.

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized in its entirety.

Separated Material

A Jewish-German military prayer book (Feldgebetbuch) from World War I, a Haggadah from the celebration of Passover in Lida in 1917, and a Haggadah inscribed with the name Hecht were removed to the LBI Library. These materials seem to have belonged to Siegfried Hecht during his military service in World War I.

Most of the photographs that were donated with the material in this collection were separated to the LBI Photograph Collection. Like the photographs that were kept with the materials in the collection, these include formal portraits and casual photographs that depict leisure activities, travels, and World War I military scenes. These can be viewed online: Photographs from AR 5605. The following albums can also be viewed online:
Several Nazi medals from the area around Cologne, Germany, coins, and an armband were removed to the LBI Art & Objects Collection. Copies of the following publications were removed:
  1. Westdeutscher Beobachter, volume 14, number 254, September 16, 1938
  2. Army Talks, volume 4, number 26, November 11, 1945
  3. Army Talks, volume 4, number 27, November 18, 1945
  4. Nationalblatt, volume 15, number 28, February 17-18, 1945
  5. Aachener Nachrichten, volume 1, number 25, July 11, 1945
  6. Aachener Nachrichten, volume 1, number 33, August 14, 1945
  7. Aachener Nachrichten, volume 1, number 63, November 23, 1945
  8. Süddeutsche Mitteilungen, number 13, July 7, 1945

Processing Information

Materials were unfolded and rehoused into acid-free archival folders. Duplicates were removed. The World War I military map was placed in an oversized folder and box. Envelopes that did not contain any more information than could be found on the related piece of correspondence were discarded. Torn or very brittle documents were placed in Mylar sleeves. Loose photographs were placed in archival envelopes, and the photograph album was interleaved with acid-free paper to buffer the photographs. Coins, medals, and the copies of Army Talks and German-language newspapers listed under Separated Materials were removed. The photographs and photo albums listed under Separated Materials had already been separated before processing in January 2014.
Title
Guide to the Hecht and Gottschalk Family Collection 1819-1980 AR 5605
Author
Processed by Leanora Lange
Date
© 2014
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Processing made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Digitization made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

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