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Marion Wolff Estate Collection

Identifier: AR 25630

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains documents pertaining to Marion Freyer Wolff, her parents Leo and Eva Freyer née Lichtenstein, Marion’s niece Celia Anne Mandelstam and the Freyer/Lichtenstein family, as well as Edith Samuel and her sister Eva Samuel.

The research Marion Freyer Wolff did for her book Mother of a Thousand (published in 2014) about Edith Samuel makes up the greatest part of the collection. It contains several photographs Edith Samuel took of her handmade dolls (rarely showing herself) between 1930 and 1950 and photographs of Marion, before and after emigration and as a young adult at her graduation from high school in June 1944.

The collection also includes correspondence from Edith to Marion (1934-1964), a 3-page proposition typed by Marion in December 1964 right after Edith's death to write a book about Edith's dolls, and publication material such as official letters concerning the copyright of the book Mother of a Thousand and Marion’s expenses notepad from 2014. Edith's letters to Marion reflect on her art work, her experience of immigration to Palestine (Rischon LeZion) in August 1939, and her daily life abroad.

Other folders in the collection contain documents about the Freyer/Lichtenstein family, specifically about Leo and Eva Freyer and Marion herself, such as letters, wedding memorabilia and Marion’s friendship album (1934-1939, 1943). The latter includes entries of close relatives, friends and teachers. There is also an entry of Edith Samuel dated March 14, 1935 with the remark "Don’t forget us" and an entry of Eva Samuel from Palestine dated December 1936.

Furthermore the collection contains genealogy documents such as a printed list of descendants for the Simon Freyer family (2010) and a handwritten family tree for the Lichtenstein family. In a 3-page letter Ulla and Marion received from their mother in April 1974, Eva Freyer shares her memories of her own mother, Johanna Lichtenstein, and the inner dynamics of the wider Lichtenstein family. Therefore it is possible that Eva created the above-mentioned family tree.

The folder "Family Papers and Correspondence" includes a letter to Leo Freyer from November 20, 1945 in which the author tells Leo about the death of his sister Paula Freyer (1895-1943) after her deportation from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz on March 3, 1943.

The wedding gifts Eva and Leo Freyer received in October 1920 embody one of the collection’s highlights. Wedding memorabilia include handmade heart-shaped booklets with a poem about the bridal couple's love story, furthermore a "Fairy-tale of the Princess with the Wide Heart" ("Das Märchen von der Prinzessin mit dem weiten Herzen") and place cards for the bridal couple.


  • 1920-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1930s-1960s


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

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

Marion Freyer Wolff was born on July 18, 1925 in Berlin (Germany). She grew up with her parents Eva and Leo Freyer and her older sister Ursula Brigitte (Ulla). Marion's maternal grandfather, Max Lichtenstein, was a lawyer active in the workers' movement in East Prussia. He died in Theresienstadt in 1942. In 1939, at the age of 14, Marion immigrated to Baltimore, Maryland, with her family. She married John Bruno Wolff (born in May 5, 1925 as Hans Bruno Wolff) on July 25, 1950. In 1958 the couple adopted their daughter Rebecca Susan Wolff (born in 1957). Marion's books The Shrinking Circle: Memories of Nazi Berlin, 1933-1939 and The Expanding Circle: An Adoption Odyssey were published in 1989 and 2000.

When Marion Freyer Wolff was seven years old, she met the sculptor and doll maker Edith Samuel. Marion and Edith established a strong relationship that lasted until Edith’s death in 1964.

Edith Samuel was born in 1907 in Berlin (Germany). Her father, Salomon Samuel, was a first cousin of Marion's maternal grandmother, Johanna Lichtenstein née Samuel, and a Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Essen. After his retirement in December 1932 the family moved to Berlin. Edith's mother, Anna Samuel née Friedländer, was an artist and director of the Israelitischer Frauenverein. Edith immigrated to Palestine (Rischon LeZion) in August 1939, where she joined her sister Eva, who had founded her own business and become known as an important Israeli ceramic artist. Edith continued making dolls, crafting many of them as portraits of the Jewish children forced to leave their parents to escape Nazi persecution. Eva and Edith worked and partly lived together. Their mother, Anna Samuel, Salomon Samuel, and his sister Cäcilie were deported to Theresienstadt (Terezin) on August 20, 1941, where the three of them perished in October 1942.


0.5 Linear Feet


The collection contains research material for Marion Freyer Wolff’s book Mother of a Thousand, about the doll maker Edith Samuel. The collection, donated by the author, includes personal letters from Edith to Marion (1930’s-1964) and photographs, mainly showing Edith’s artwork. The content of the collection also contains material about Marion herself, about her parents, Leo and Eva Freyer née Lichtenstein, and other extended family members. Included are papers and correspondence of the Freyer/ Lichtenstein family and genealogy information.


The collection is arranged alphabetically in one series.

Related Material

The LBI Archives and Library also hold related collections pertaining to Marion Freyer Wolff such as:

  1. Marion F. Wolff Collection 1888-2003 (AR 6935)
  2. Mother of a Thousand: Selected letters by Edith Samuel written between 1934 and 1947 / by Edith Samuel; translated by Marion Freyer Wolff (LBILD20142202)
  3. Eva Lichtenstein Freyer Collection circa 1915-2003 (AR 11452, MF 1314)

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum contains a Marion Freyer Wolff collection and letters pertaining to Leo Freyer:

  1. Marion Freyer Wolff collection, 1910-1939 (2004.388)
  2. "Margarete Montag letter to Leo Freyer, 21 Aug. 1946, and Yad Vashem testimony pages" (1991.A.0033)

The State University of New York at Albany's M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives includes the Walter A. Friedländer (Friedlaender) Papers 1914-1984 (GER-003). Walther Friedländer was the cousin of Marion Freyer Wolff's mother. The collection includes correspondence between both Walter Friedländer and Marion Wolff, and Walter Friedländer and Ursula Mandelstam née Freyer.

Processing Information

All related content was organized alphabetically. Documents sent together by the donor were kept together during the processing of the archival collection. Photographs were placed in acid-free envelopes.

Guide to the Papers of Marion Freyer Wolff (1925- ) 1920-2015 AR 25630
Processed by Kim Dresel
© 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from MarionFreyerWolffEstate.xml

Revision Statements

  • August 2015:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States