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Erna Katzenell Collection

Identifier: AR 10777

Scope and Content Note

The main topic of the Erna Katzenell Collection is Erna's life in hiding and rescue by her friends during the Second World War. Of great importance is also the official recognition of her rescuers by organizations like Yad Vashem. This collection is organized in four series: folders contain original and photocopied documents, photographs and clippings, as well as official and private letters and postcards, ranging from the 1920s to 2000. Also included are transcripts of interviews and reports as well as a self-published book by Otto Kuttelwascher, small publications and pamphlets.


  • 1920s – 2000
  • Majority of material found in 1978-1984, 1998-2000


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

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 "Reserve" 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


Biographical Note

Erna Katzenell was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 12, 1908, as the daughter of Leopold and Sofie Kohn. Until the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) in 1938 she was employed in handicraft, until her boss was forced to close his business. In the course of the Aryanization process (Arisierung), her family's business as well as their apartment were taken by the Nazis. Erna and her sister Käthe tried to emigrate to Sussex, England, but after the war broke out, their plans were cancelled. Käthe was forced to work in a mending shop (Kunststopferei), and Erna was sent to a forced labor camp in Germany. Eventually, Käthe, her brother Paul and their mother were sent to Majdanek in Poland, Gurs internment camp in France and Theresienstadt in today's Czech Republic, respectively, where they all perished. Another sister, Rudi, immigrated with her husband to the U.S. via Bolivia.

In 1942, Erna was ordered to return to Vienna and report to the Gestapo, but instead, she turned to her parents' friends, the Kuttelwascher family, who took her in. Otto and Mina (also: Hermine) Kuttelwascher obtained for her a false identification card as Erna Fröhlich, who allegedly worked for the German state railway (Deutsche Reichsbahn), although she hardly ever left the apartment. The Kuttelwaschers kept Erna safe from May 1942 until the end of the war in 1945.

In February 1948, Erna immigrated to the United States as a Displaced Person. She lived in New York, where she met her husband Max Katzenell. They both worked in the fashion industry.

Erna Katzenell died on February 27, 2002.


0.25 Linear Feet


The Erna Katzenell collection consists of documents about Katzenell's life in hiding during the Second World War and her ultimate rescue. Amongst others, it includes documents about her rescuers, clippings, correspondence, photographs, and transcripts of interviews.

Digitization Note

The collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

Processing Information

This collection was reorganized and new series and folders were created.

Guide to the Papers of Erna Katzenell 1920s-2000 AR 10777
Processed by Alexandra Weinschenker
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Digitization made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ErnaKatzenell.xml

Revision Statements

  • June 2015: dao links and digitization information added by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States