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Levy - Mayer - Scherman family collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25634

Scope and Content Note

The Levy, Mayer and Scherman Family Collection encompasses archival material about these three related families, though the history of the Levy family during and after World War II is at the heart of the papers; they consist of three series which are arranged in 8 folders and one oversized folder. The dominant topic of this collection is the survival of Meta, Alfred, Marie-Louise and Theo Levy in Luxembourg and France during World War II. Their experiences are well represented in Series I which consists of the correspondence with the Scherman family. The two families wrote most of the letters between 1939 and 1942 (Folder 4) and between 1944 and 1946 (Folder 5). Additionally, this topic can be very well explored through the various restitution papers of the Levy family (Folder 8).

Restitution papers are another important topic of the collection and part of Series II (Folder 8); the folder contains a large amount of official restitution decisions. Series II also contains correspondence, legal and official documents, as well as notes of the Levy family; the papers of Alfred Levy give insight into his professional career after World War II in the French zone and the Federal Republic of Germany (Folder 1). One should note that many of these Levy family papers are strongly interrelated to the restitution papers. The third series of the collection contains two clippings from the Luxemburger Wort für Wahrheit und Recht (1940 August 28) and the Volksstimme für Sozialismus und Demokratie (1951 January 2) (oversized folder). Additionally, this series includes the register of members of the Jewish community in Saarbrücken after World War II (Folder 6).

Dates

  • 1928–1981
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1971

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, and French.

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

email: http://www.lbi.org/ask

Biographical Note

The Levy, Mayer and Scherman families were three interrelated families from Germany and France. During World War I, Alfred Levy (1888–1962) served as a German soldier, and his future wife Meta Mayer (1891–1969) worked as a Red Cross nurse in a military hospital. Meta was raised in Saarlouis (France/Germany), Alfred became a judge and worked in this city. They married in 1924. Their first child, Marie-Louise (Marlyse) was born in 1925, and in 1932 Meta gave birth to her son Theo. When the Saar became German, the family decided to leave their home and moved to Luxembourg in the summer of 1935. Facing the imminent threat of war in 1938, the family fled to Thionville (France) but returned after the Munich Accord to Luxembourg. The country was occupied by the Germans in 1940. When Gauleiter Gustav Simon took over the government, persecution against Jews increased. Due to her being Jewish, Marie-Louise was excluded from school. Together with Rabbi Robert Serebrenik Alfred Levy tried several times to negotiate better living conditions for the Jewish population with the Gestapo (Secret State Police). On December 13, 1940 the family was deported to unoccupied Vichy-France. They were able to escape the concentration camps. They fled to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, where they received permission to stay and rented a little apartment.

During the stay in Luxembourg, there evolved an intensive correspondence between the Levy and the Scherman families. Meta Mayer's sister Olga Mayer (1893-1980) had married Richard Scherman (1897-1987), a fellow student she had got to know when she studied at the medical school in Munich. They fled with their son Rolf (born in 1928) to the United States.

In November 1942 the Germans occupied the previously free zone in France. In the course of the German invasion and occupation of the previously free zone in France, they also occupied Villefranche-de-Rouergue and requested living quarters. Most of these troops consisted of SS squads. A neighbor of the Levy family betrayed them to the German authorities. Members of the Resistance warned the family in 1943 that Alfred Levy was on a list of those to be arrested. He was granted safety by farmers and hidden. Nonetheless, he was arrested while visiting his family. Due to the intervention of a high-ranking police officer who was also a Resistance fighter, Alfred was released. Before the Allied invasion in 1944, the whole family went into hiding during the months of April and October 1944. Again, Alfred Levy found refuge at the farm, while Meta, her daughter Marie-Louise and her son Theo found shelter in the convent Ruhles near Villefranche-de-Rouergue.

In 1946 the Levy family returned to the Saar. There, Alfred Levy worked as a judge again; the French administration appointed him Senatspräsident. Additionally, he provided guidance to Jews who applied for restitution; especially, he conducted lawsuits in the name of his family members and was able to win several cases on the loss of private property, the violation of liberty, the damage of health, the hindrance of educational and professional advancement, etc. Alfred Levy was also actively involved in the life of the Jewish community of the Saar, holding leading positions in the community and at one time even serving as president of the Jewish community. He died in 1962; his wife Meta died seven years later. Theo stayed with his parents. After the war he suffered from mental disorders and died in 1998. Marie-Louise migrated to the United States where she worked as an anesthesiologist and professor. She married John A. Kennedy and they started a family.

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection documents the survival of Alfred, Meta, Marlyse and Theo Levy during the Nazi regime in the Saar, Luxembourg and France. Amongst others it encompasses the voluminous correspondence between the Levy and the Scherman families during World War II and their restitution papers. The register of surviving members of the Jewish community in Saarbrücken after 1945 is one of the remarkable documents in this collection.

Related Material

See also the manuscript "Family Letters… Family Matters" written by Marlyse Kenedy (MS 1028), which served a basis for the biographical note above. The manuscript contains most of the correspondence between the Scherman and Levy family, which she translated into English, biographical notes about the various family members, the genealogy of the families and several photographs.

Processing Information

The former arrangement of the collection indicated the importance of the correspondence between the Levy and the Scherman family; the restitution papers and other correspondence as well as legal and official documents were loosely ordered in different folders; the register of members from the Jewish community in Saarbrücken was stored in one folder. In August 2015, the collection was rearranged into three series consisting of 8 folders, taking into consideration the thematic order of the original arrangement. The documents in the folders are ordered chronologically.
Title
Guide to the Papers of the Levy, Mayer and Scherman Family 1928-1981 AR 25634
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Simon Sax
Date
© 2015
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Levy_Mayer_Scherman_Family.xml

Revision Statements

  • February 2016:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

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