Greta Rapp Collection
Scope and Content Note
This collection documents the efforts of Greta Rapp to have Marie Louise Hensel recognized by Yad Vashem for her efforts to rescue the Jewish professor Hermann Reis and his family in 1942. Materials include correspondence between Greta Rapp and Prof. John K. Dickinson, the Leo Baeck Institute, Yad Vashem, and Martin Hensel, the son of Marie Louise. Also included are clippings about Marie Louise Hensel, poems and notes written and collected by Greta Rapp, a copy of the certificate awarded by Yad Vashem, and photographs of the medal of honor awarded to her and the tree planted in her honor on the Avenue of the Righteous on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. A 1977 box inventory created at the LBI Archives is also included.
- Creation: 1968-1977
- Rapp, Greta (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, German, and French.
This collection is open to researchers.
Greta Rapp lived in Marburg, Germany in the early twentieth century and immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Flushing, New York.
Greta Rapp discovered the story of Marie Louise Hensel née Flothmann (1894-1942) through Prof. John Dickinson’s book “German and Jew” The Life and Death of Siegmund Stein. According to Dickinson, Marie Louise Hensel was a Christian married to Albert Hensel, a lawyer and Christian descendant of Moses Mendelssohn. She helped Jewish friends in Marburg as living conditions worsened for them during the 1930s and early 1940s. While on a visit to a spa near Lake Constance in 1942, she met the Jewish lawyer Hermann Reis, his wife Selma, and daughter Marion, and decided to coordinate an attempt to allow them to escape to Switzerland over Lake Constance on a fishing boat. Another acquaintance at the spa betrayed the plan to the Gestapo, and Marie Louise Hensel and the Reis family were arrested. Hermann, Selma, and Marion Reis were deported to Auschwitz, where they perished. Marie Louise Hensel hanged herself in her prison cell for fear of divulging information under interrogation that would endanger others. Accounts of her story suggest that she was particularly worried about her two sons, Martin and Kurt, whom the Nazi regime would consider non-Aryan. Kurt Hensel later became a German ambassador to Israel.
Having lived in Marburg herself during the Nazi era, Greta Rapp undertook efforts to have Marie Louise Hensel recognized by Yad Vashem as a righteous gentile although her rescue effort was ultimately unsuccessful. In 1972, Yad Vashem awarded Marie Louise Hensel a medal of honor, and a tree was planted in her name on the Avenue of the Righteous on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.
0.25 Linear Feet
This collection documents the efforts of Greta Rapp to have Marie Louise Hensel recognized by Yad Vashem for her efforts to rescue the Jewish lawyer Hermann Reis and his family in 1942. Although the rescue attempt failed, Hensel was added to Yad Vashem’s list of the Righteous Among The Nations. Materials include correspondence, clippings, notes, a poem, a copy of the certificate awarded by Yad Vashem, and photographs of the medal of honor they awarded and the tree that was planted in honor of Marie Louise Hensel.
The collection is arranged by document type. The correspondence is arranged by correspondent and ordered alphabetically.
This collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.
Duplicates were removed. Copies of pages 97-153 of Abraham A. Fraenkel's Lebenskreise. Aus den Erinnerungen eines juedischen Mathematikers were removed. This book can be accessed at the LBI Library.
- Rapp, Greta (Person)
- Hensel, Marie Luise, 1894-1942 (Person)
- Reis, Hermann, 1896-1945 (Person)
- Yad ṿa-shem, rashut ha-zikaron la-Shoʼah ṿela-gevurah (Organization)
- Guide to the Greta Rapp Collection 1968-1977 AR 4375
- Processed by Leanora Lange
- © 2013
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Described, encoded, and digitized as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.