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Margaret Gabali Rosenfelt Collection

Identifier: AR 25414

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of Margaret Gabali Rosenfelt’s papers, including correspondence, official records, memoirs, a diary, a booklet, and a scrapbook. There is also a photo of her friend Charlotte. The donor of the collection, Andrew Lear, to whom she left her papers, described her life and career in a letter and attached a printout of her obituary, which are included in the last, fifth folder along with a letter to LBI. Her career as a potter is not reflected in the collection.

The first four folders include the following materials:

Folder 1 holds Margaret Rosenfelt’s papers from Germany, produced since her birth in 1912 until her departure from Germany in 1951. Her records include school records, proofs of immunization, Lutheran confirmation, and certificates of employment. Her identity card from 1940, temporary registration by the Military Government of Germany, and passport are also enclosed. Also included is her correspondence pertaining to the rental of a studio. Materials in this folder likely related to Margaret Rosenfelt’s restitution claims include correspondence, undated, handwritten lists of expenses and tools, a letter from her father from 1942 describing property and the family’s situation, and vital records for her brother Hans, her mother, and her mother’s family. Also included in the folder is an undated horoscope filled out for “Grete G” (Grete is the diminutive for Margarete).

Folder 2 houses Margaret Rosenfelt’s correspondence from the period of her internment in France in 1945 and 1946. These are letters to and from her father, Jewish religious officials, a certain Herr Scharff, and the French authorities, in which she describes her hardships during the war. There are some documents on smaller pieces of paper from her father in addition to the letters. Margaret Rosenfelt kept a diary during this period. In the diary, she kept her friend Charlotte’s photograph; probably the same Charlotte who prepared the handmade picture book – a Christmas present – also enclosed in this folder.

In folder 3 are four undated notebooks containing Margaret Rosenfelt’s memoirs and a scrapbook, which she probably used from the late 1930s until around the time of her arrival to the United States.

In folder 4, there is correspondence from Rudolf Schneider, an architect in Stuttgart, dating between 1946 and 1989. The correspondence consists of postcards and letters with photos glued to the paper, custom-made postcards mostly for Christmas and New Year’s, and two invitations or brochures of his exhibitions in Germany. There is also a letter from Hermann Meier to Rudolf Schneider from 1946 and undated postcards depicting the lake Bodensee with notes made with pencil by an unknown author.


  • 1912-1989, 2005, 2010


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, French, and English.

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

Margaret Gabali Rosenfelt was born as Margarete Gabali on September 2, 1912 in Hamburg, Germany. Her father Alfred Gabali (May 4, 1886 – December 1963) was Jewish and her mother Sophie Auguste Frieda May (February 2, 1890 – March 22, 1937) was Lutheran. Margaret Gabali was confirmed as a Lutheran in 1929, taking on the middle name Lydia. Her parents probably divorced and her father, who remarried, fled to Holland. From Holland he immigrated to the United States with his second wife Elfriede Gabali-Pütz. They arrived to New York on the ship Veendam on December 18, 1949. They were naturalized in 1955. Alfred Gabali died in December 1963, probably in Palm Beach.

Margaret Rosenfelt had two younger brothers, Hans and Karl. Hans Gabali (February 8, 1920, Hamburg – January 2, 2006, New York) was drafted into the German army, but he was eventually dismissed. He followed his father and elder sister to the United States and sailed on the ship Italia to New York on July 2, 1952. He became a well-known muralist in Long Island, New York. It is assumed that Margaret Rosenfelt’s youngest brother Karl was caught trying to flee from Germany to Switzerland and died in Auschwitz.

Margaret Rosenfelt studied art and worked as a textile designer at IG Farben in the 1930s. She lost her job as a result of the “Aryanization” of German arts and the merge of IG Farben with Reichskammer der bildenden Kuenste (Reich Chamber of Fine Arts). While she could continue working for IG Farben’s advertising department as a contractor for a short period, she was soon forced to leave this position too. She survived the war in Berlin, where she had various jobs, finally as a governess.

After the war, Margaret Rosenfelt tried to join her father in Holland, but was interned in France for over a year as an enemy alien. Finally, she left Germany for the United States via Holland and arrived to New York on the ship Westerdam on January 2, 1952. She was naturalized on January 25, 1960. Her first marriage to Harry Peritz ended in divorce in Florida in August 1957. She later married a Rosenfelt. She claimed restitution from Germany and also tried to reclaim lost property. She lived in New York and Massachusetts and worked as a potter. Before her death, she left her papers to the New York University classics professor Andrew Lear, son of one of her friends, who donated the collection to the Leo Baeck Institute. Margaret Gabali Rosenfelt died on March 28, 2005 in Needham, Massachusetts at the age of 92.


0.5 Linear Feet


This collection contains personal papers of Margaret Gabali Rosenfelt (1912-2005), including official documents as well as correspondence with family, German and French authorities, and her friend Rudolf Schneider, a Stuttgart architect. A diary and memoirs are also included.


The collection is arranged geographically (folders 1 and 2 include papers from and pertaining to Margaret Rosenfelt’s life in Germany and France, respectively) and based on authorship.

Digitization Note

The collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

Processing Information

Materials were rehoused into archival folders.

Guide to the Margaret Gabali Rosenfelt Collection 1912-1989, 2005, 2010 AR 25414
Processed by Katalin Franciska Rac
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe. Digitization made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Revision Statements

  • April 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