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Elizabeth W. Trahan Collection

Identifier: AR 25038

Scope and Content Note

The Elizabeth Welt Trahan Collection documents the life of a young woman during the Nazi period. When the Second World War started Elizabeth Welt Trahan lived with her grandparents in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. Therefore most of the documents from 1935 to 1941 refer to her time in Czechoslovakia and the persecutions of Jews. After she moved to Vienna, Austria to live with her father she started to write much more autobiographical material. Personal documents, correspondences, autobiographical materials like her diary and manuscripts as well as typescripts are Elizabeth Welt Trahan's testimony.

The first series of the collection holds mostly personal papers of Elizabeth Welt Trahan, although there is also one folder about the Ceiger family. Max and Olga Ceiger were related to Elizabeth Welt Trahan and they emigrated to Italy.

The second series contains autobiographical writings, all similar in their content.


  • 1913-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1939-1947


Language of Materials

The collection is for the most part in German and English, but there are some documents in Romanian, Czech and Italian.

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

Elisabeth Welt was born on November 19, 1924 in Berlin, Germany, and raised by her grandparents in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia after her mother's death in 1929. On January 1, 1940 she rejoined her father, who had been living in Vienna since 1936, so that they could emigrate together. They did not succeed in leaving, and her memoir Walking with ghosts: a Jewish childhood in wartime Vienna (Peter Lang, 1998, 2000) describes her experiences during World War II in Vienna.

In July 1947 she immigrated to the United States as a displaced person with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC). After gaining a PhD in comparative literature at Yale University in 1957 she taught at various universities before retiring in 1993. Since then she was active as an independent scholar and writer. Occasionally she wrote under the pen name Lisa Mondo. Elizabeth Welt Trahan died on September 16, 2009.

Elizabeth Welt was married to Donald Herbert Trahan from 1957 to 1974. They had one daughter, Jennifer Trahan (born 1964-). Elizabeth's father, Albert Welt (1895-1965), was born in Czernowitz (then Austria, today Chernivtsi, Ukraine) and died in Vienna, Austria. Her mother, Selma née Silberstein (1896-1929), was born in Ostrau (today Ostrava, Czechoslovakia) and died in Berlin, Germany.


0.25 Linear Feet


The Elizabeth W. Trahan Collection documents the personal and professional life of Elizabeth Welt Trahan, who was active as a scholar and writer and taught for several years at various universities in the U.S. Her autobiographical materials, such as her diary, reflect her personal view on Vienna, Austria during World War II. Other papers include personal documents, correspondence, a diary and other autobiographical manuscripts.


The collection is arranged in two series:

Related Material

The LBI Library holds Elizabeth Trahan's book: Walking with Ghosts: a Jewish Childhood in Wartime Vienna [DS 135 A92 V5 T73 1998]. This book is also published under the title: Geisterbeschwoerung: eine juedische Jugend in Wien der Kriegsjahre, Vienna: Picus, 1996.

Separated Material

Photographs were removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

Processing Information

The prior arrangement still applies except the original last folder of addenda was moved into Series I: Personal.

Guide to the Papers of Elizabeth W. Trahan (1924-2009) 1913-2009 AR 25038
Processed by Juliane Radig
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ElizabethTrahan.xml

Revision Statements

  • June 17, 2013 : 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