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Salomons-Fox Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25886

Scope and Contents

The Salomons-Fox Family Collection documents the life of various members of the extended Salmons-Fox family. The material includes correspondence; legal and official documents; genealogical research files; newspaper clippings; photographs; and an extensive amount of papers related to Dave Fox's career as an artist; such as exhibition invitations and brochures; biographical notes; sketches et cetera. Prominent topics of the collection are school and university education; the emigration and attempted emigration of the various family members from Germany and Austria to the United States via Luxembourg and Belgium; the establishment of a new life in the United States; restitution and pension claims; genealogical research, that includes many different and detailed family trees; the life and career of Jackie Gerlich; and Dave Fox's artistic career.

Series I documents the lives of the family members through a variety of documents, such as passports (German and American) and other travel documents; school reports; employment records; and birth, marriage and death certificates. The series contains files from the period before the emigration as well as from the flight from Germany and of the time after the immigration to the United States. The German passports were all issued either in 1938 or 1939 and hold many visas and border control stamps, through which the escape route of the individual family members becomes traceable. Most of the education and work records originate from Frida Steindecker and document her training and employment in the field of (Jewish) social welfare. Among them are two documents signed by Alice Salomon.

The correspondence of the collection is kept in Series II. It consists of personal correspondence between family members; work correspondence; and restitution and pension claims. Notable are letters and telegrams between Lina Kahn and Isaak Stern; and her four daughters (Trude Hochheimer, Charlotte Schwarzenberger, Bertha Salomons and Frida Steindecker) and their husbands that document the unsuccessful attempts of Lina and Isaak to flee from Germany between 1940 and 1942. Series II also holds letters between Bertha Pappenheim and Frida Steindecker from 1925-1929. Genealogical research files can be found in Series III. They include biographical notes and family trees of the extended Salmons-Fox family. It also contains documents which show the relation of the Salomons-Fox Family to the donors of the Weinberg Torah; the grandparents of Lina Kahn, Isaac Stern (Isaac Ben Eliezer Ha Levy) and his wife Lina (Leah Bas Eliyahu).

Series IV contains solely papers from or on the life of Jackie Gerlich (born as Leo Fuks). The documents focus on Jackie's travel to the United States in 1936 with Leo Singer to work for his entertainment group the "Singer Midgets" and the efforts of Jackie's mother Regina Fox to locate her son, when Singer broke their contract to bring back Jackie after 20 weeks. The series also holds correspondence on Jackie's estate after he deceased; official documents of Jackie; and newspaper clippings with pictures and information about his career as a circus artist.

Series V consists of the papers of the engineer and printmaker Dave Fox, and is the largest series of the collection. Extensive information on his life in Vienna and education and career as an artist is included in this series. In addition, the series also holds more than one linear foot of examples of his work in the form of sketches, showing his artistic process. The series also includes material pertaining to his time in the U.S.-Army during World War II, his education, and exhibitions of his work.

Other papers are stored in Series VI. Among them are all the photographs of the collection; a letter from the collection's donor, Karen L. Fox; copies from title page and publishing information of the books that were removed from the collection; newspaper clippings; and other various files. The photographs contain images of various members of the family.


  • Creation: 1855-2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1910-1985


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English with small amounts of Polish, Russian, French and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.

Biographical Note

Dave Fox was born on October 2nd, 1920 as David Fuks in Vienna Austria. He was the son of Regina Fox (Ryfka Fuks, née Gerlich) and Abraham Fox (Abram Fuks). His brothers were Jacob Fuks (born 1917, later known as Jack Fox); and Leo Fuks (born 1925, later known as Jackie Gerlich).

Dave's father Abraham was born on November 27th, 1886 in Łódź, Poland (then Kingdom of Poland, which was part of the Russian Empire). There Abraham worked in the textile industry before he fled to Vienna in fear of being drafted in the Russian Army during the First World War. Dave's mother Regina was born on August 24th, 1893 in Jaćmierz, Poland (then Galicia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Regina fled from Galicia in World War 1, as the region she lived in was a war zone. Their first son Jack (Jakob) Fox was born on September 21, 1917, in Vienna. The family lived in the 20th district of Vienna (Brigittenau), where many refugees from Eastern Europe found accommodation.

Later, around 1932 or 1933, the Fox family moved to the 2nd district of Vienna, where Regina ran a small grocery store. Dave became interested in arts already as a youngster, when he came in contact with the works of the "Secession Group.".He was also influenced by the social democratic political climate in Vienna, which was then called "Rotes Wien" (Red Vienna), by joining several social democratic youth groups. When the Austrian fascists came to power in 1934, Dave joined Jewish and Zionist youth groups, one of them was the "Hashomer Hatzair." Dave and his brother Jack participated in some of the anti-Anschluss protests in 1938. After the Anschluss of Austria in March of the same year the family became victims of antisemitism through Nazi slogans on the windows of their store, preventing customers to buy there; roundups; and other daily harassment and discrimination. Because of that and because of Dave's and his brother's participation in the protests, which was known by the Austrian Nazis in their neighborhood (most of them Austrian youngsters, with whom they used to play as children before the Anschluss), they started to hide in the Augarten, a park in Vienna, during the day time, leaving the house in the early morning and coming home late at night, sometimes even staying through the night. Despite that, Dave wasn't always able to escape the Nazis and was beaten up and chased through the streets. These experiences made him and his brother realize that they needed to flee Austria. In 1938 Dave and his friend, Pepe, first tried to go to Italy and Switzerland, unsuccessfully, before they managed to escape to Belgium via Germany. They crossed the German-Belgian border at night with other young Jews they met at a Jewish community center in Cologne. After they reached Belgium, they were imprisoned in Liège by the Belgian police, who let them free after a few days, as they told them they were going to Spain to support the Spanish National Party in the Spanish civil war. Out of prison, Dave went to Antwerp, from where he sent a letter to his brother telling him how he managed to enter Belgium. His friend Pepe was picked up by the Belgian police and transferred to the Netherlands and from there to Germany at some point. Dave and his brother Jack stayed in Antwerp for a year, where Dave worked in a refinery. Their parents, Regina and Abraham received entry permits to the United States through Dave's uncle Benny Fuks and emigrated to New York in early 1939 on a boat from Antwerp, where they met two of their sons (their youngest son, Leo had been in the U.S. since 1936). After arriving in America, Abraham was able to organize the legal papers for the emigration of Dave and Jack through an old friend, whom he randomly met in a café in New York.

Dave and Jack came to New York in late 1939. The family resettled in Los Angeles, because Abraham's friend lived there and provided them a home, and their younger brother Jackie (Leo) Gerlich worked in Los Angeles at that time. Dave worked as a sheet metal worker and met his wife Senta Salomons at a hiking and debating club in a Friendship house of the Jewish Federation, which served as a meeting point for Jewish refugees. They married in December 1943. On January 17th, 1945, Dave became an American citizen and changed his name to Dave Fox. Later he was drafted to serve in the United States Army. After he was trained in the States he was stationed in Japan and the Philippines in the Signal Corps of the occupation forces, as the war was already over. He returned to the United States in 1946 after two-and-a-half years of service. Following his interest in the arts Dave decided to go to art school after his service under the G.I. Bill. After completing his studies at the Polytech High School in Los Angeles in 1947, from 1947-1950 he attended the Bistrim School of Fine Arts. As he became more involved with figure drawing, he attended Jepson Art Institute. Both schools were located in Los Angeles. Among the faculty members who had an influence on Dave were Rico Lebrun, Frances de Erderly and Guy Maccoy. Beginning in 1952, Dave joined the Electronic Engineering Company of California as a silk screen artist and photographer; in 1954, he became the Graphic Arts supervisor. After leaving he was rehired as a supervisor in the Manufacturing Engineering department, where he worked on research into gold and copper plating capabilities. In 1951 Dave and Senta had their first child Karen Leah Fox, and three years later in 1954 their son Steven Allen. The family settled in Orange County, California. Whilst working, Dave decided to get further art education and went back to school. After attending Fullerton Junior College, he continued at California State University, Fullerton. He studied there from 1977 to 1987 and received a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking. In the 1980s Dave retired from his work at the Electronic Engineering Company of California and focused entirely on his career as an artist. In the following years he had many solo and group exhibitions in various galleries and museums, mostly in California. From 1996 to 2005 Dave attended Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, where he took classes in Sculpture, Ceramics and Silverwork, as well as Copper Enameling. He lived in Orange County until his death in 2011.

Jackie Gerlich was born on September 21st, 1925 in Vienna as Leo Fuks, the third son of Regina and Abraham Fox.

In 1936 Leo Singer, who was running an entertainment group in the U.S., called the "Singer Midgets," approached Leo's parents to take their son with him to the United States to be a part of his group. Regina and Abraham agreed to a contract, stating that Leo Singer would return the boy after 20 weeks; pay the parents $15 per week for their son's engagement; and pay his passage to the United States. As Singer had difficulty in getting a visa for Leo, who was only 10 years old at that time, he used the documents and name of Leo's brother Jacob ("Jackie"), who was already 18 years old. From that time on, Leo Gerlich used "Jackie" as his first name for the rest of his life. Leo Singer and Jackie Gerlich left Vienna for the United States on March 2nd, 1936. Singer never kept the contract that he made with Jackie and his parents, neither did he send them money, nor did he return the child after 20 weeks. From 1936 to January 1939, the family heard little from their child and tried to locate Jackie to bring him back. For that they instructed relatives already living in the United States to research the whereabouts of Jackie. After they came to America themselves, they also hired a lawyer to force Leo Singer to return their child. In 1939 Jackie's parents and brothers moved to Los Angeles to reunite the family, as Jackie was living there at that time. Nevertheless, Jackie never lived with his family in the United States, as he started to travel around with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 1939 he also appeared in the movie "The Wizard of Oz" as the red Munchkin of the Lollipop Guild. Jackie worked for the Circus until he died of cancer on December 27th, 1960 in Sarasota, Florida. In 2007 he and all the 124 Munchkin actors were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dave Fox's wife, Senta Fox (née Salomons), was born on October 28th, 1921 in Dortmund, Germany. She was the daughter of Alex Salomons and Bertha Salomons Seligman; and sister of Rudy (Rudolf) Salomons. The Salomons family had originally arrived in Germany from Amsterdam and Spain.

The family lived together with Senta's grandparents in a house in Dortmund, where her father Alex ran a store for women's clothing. Her grandfather Samuel Kahn owned a shoe store in the same building. In Dortmund Senta attended the Jewish elementary school and then went to the secondary school for girls ("Lyzeum"). With Jewish children being banned from public education, Senta was forced to leave her school in 1936 at the age of 14 and couldn't pursue her plans to become a high school teacher anymore. Furthermore, her father lost his business, and her family was evicted from their apartment and needed to move in with her grandmother. In that same year her parents sent Senta's younger brother Rudy on a transport to the United States with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS); he was 11 years at that time. Senta was active in the Zionist organization Habonim, willing to emigrate to Israel, even though her parents were opposing this, as they wanted the family to be reunited in America. After being expelled from school, Senta started Hakhshara ("Preparation") on a one year's training in a children's home in Wyck on the Island of Föhr. After the end of this training, she worked in an old-age home in Unna, Germany. On Kristallnacht the Nazis vandalized her family's home and beat up her father, Alex, who then fled to Senta's aunt Frida Steindecker (née Kahn) in Hamburg. The Salomons family lived in Dortmund for another year before they escaped to Luxemburg, from where they immigrated to the United States in 1940.

In the United States Senta was still aiming to become a high school teacher but was not able to afford further education and started to work as a daily help. After her father became incapable of working due to the long-term consequences of the persecution by the Nazis, she needed to provide the alimentation of her parents and started to work as a stitcher in a factory. Suffering herself under the physical and mental consequences of the persecution and escape, she needed to give up this work after a few years and worked as an alteration tailor and office hand. Senta lived in Orange County, California together with her husband Dave and their children. She died in 2008.

Senta Fox's mother Bertha Salomons Seligman (née Kahn) was born on December 17th, 1898 in Dortmund, Germany. She was the daughter of Samuel Kahn and Lina Kahn (neé Stern); and sister of twin Frida Steindecker (neé Kahn), and sister of Charlotte (Lotte) Schwarzenberger (née Kahn) and Trude Hochheimer (née Kahn).

Bertha married Alex Salomons (born on March 21st, 1886 in Neuenhaus, Germany) on November 12th, 1920. They had two children, Senta and Rudolf (Rudy) Salomons (born on June 27th, 1925). Alex Salomons died in 1953 in Los Angeles. In 1958 Bertha married her second husband Herbert Seligman (born on May 5th, 1992 in Hamburg, Germany). In the United States Bertha worked as a housewife. She died on April 14th, 1974 in Los Angeles.

Bertha's sister Trude Hochheimer and her husband Fred/Fritz lived in Los Angeles too.

Frida Steindecker (née Kahn) was born on December 17th 1898 in Dortmund, Germany. She attended the secondary school for girls in Dortmund until 1916. Afterwards she was a student at the public school for domestic sciences in Dortmund and went to boarding school in Baden-Baden in 1917. In October the same year she moved to Berlin and attended the school for social work (Soziale Frauenschule) which was run by Dr. Alice Salomon and where Frida graduated in 1919. She was trained in nursery school and in the main office for private welfare work. From 1919 to 1920 she was a student at the "Niederrheinische Frauenakademie" (Lower Rhine Women's Academy) in Dusseldorf, Germany, from where she graduated as a registered social worker. After working in various places in the field of social work, Frida served as the Acting Director of the League of Jewish Women (Jüdischer Frauenbund) in Berlin. She gave up that position in November 1921 and started to work as the secretary of the Jewish Welfare Society in Elberfeld-Barmen in 1921 and live closer to her family. She was also the secretary of the Association of German Jewish Employment Services, in Elberfeld and a Social worker for the Jewish congregation in Elberfeld. During her time working in Elberfeld Frida corresponded with Bertha Pappenheim and visited the home of the League of Jewish Women in Neu-Isenburg, Germany. After her visit Frida invited Bertha to give a workshop for the social workers in Elberfeld and occasionally sent goods to the home in Neu-Isenburg.

In November 1929 Frida married the merchant Alfred Steindecker and resigned from her previous work to move to Hamburg. There she served as the chairman for the Council of Jewish Women and was active in the work for the adoption of children. She was also the Vice-President of the children's camp in Wyk on the Island of Föhr. In May 1939 Frida and her husband Alfred fled to the United States and resettled in St. Louis, Missouri. There, Frida worked in various jobs such as home help, taking care of children or working in factories. Later she was able to work again in her profession, as she was hired as a social worker by the State Department. Frida died on September 24th, 1992. Alfred Steindecker was (born on December 24th, 1887 in Hamburg, Germany. He was trained as a merchant by his relatives, who owned a business in Paris, where Alfred lived from 1908 to 1914. Afterwards he served in the German Army in the First World War.

Frida's sister Dr. Charlotte (Lotte) Schwarzenberger and her husband Kurt lived in St. Louis as well.

Frida, Bertha, Charlotte and Trude's parents were Samuel Kahn born on March 10th, 1854 and Lina Kahn (née Stern) born on November 16th, 1871. Lina's grandparents were Isaac (Isaac ben Eliezer ha Levy) and Lina Stern (Leah bas Eliyahu), who donated a Torah-scroll – the called "Weinberg Torah" – to the Synagogue in Rheda, Germany. Samuel Kahn died in 1924. Lina Kahn and her brother Isaak Stern unsuccessfully tried to emigrate in 1940 and 1941 to Mexico, Santo Domingo or Cuba with the help of Lina's daughters and their families in the United States. Lina Kahn was murdered in Auschwitz. Isaak Stern perished in the Holocaust.


2.5 Linear Feet

2 Folders (2 oversized folders in shared oversized boxes.)


The Salomons-Fox family collection documents the lives of various family members of the extended Salomons-Fox family. Topics of the collection are the education; the emigration or attempted emigration to the United States, the establishment of a new life in America; and the professional career of the individuals represented in the collection. An extensive amount of the collection focusses on the artistic career and life of Dave Fox. Also included are papers pertaining to the circus artist and actor, Jackie (Leo) Gerlich, who appeared in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz."


The collection is arranged in five series.

  1. Series I: Family Documents
  2. Series II: Family Correspondence
  3. Series III: Family Genealogical research
  4. Series IV: Jackie Gerlich
  5. Series V: Dave Fox
  6. Series VI: Other Papers

Related Materials

The following material is related to this collection.

Related Material:

  1. Dave Fox's Questionnaire of the Austrian Heritage Collection. LBI Archives call number: AR 10378
  2. Weinberg, Werner (1976): Tale of a Torah scroll; a chapter in German-American Jewish history. Cincinnati: Cincinnati Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. LBI Library call number: DS 135 G4 R48 W4

Other Related Material:

  1. Dave Fox's website that includes a biographical note and information about his career as an artist:
  2. Dave Fox's Gallery representation is the Lost Art Salon in San Francisco, California.
  3. Selection of collections that Dave Fox's art is part of: American Jewish University, Los Angeles, California; Hebrew University College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio; Jewish Museum, Vienna, Austria; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Washington D.C.
  4. An oral history interview with Dave Fox as part of the project "From Hitler's Europe to the Golden State" by the Center for Oral and Public History of the California State University, Fullerton in 2011 (OH 4751).
  5. An oral history interview of Frida Steindecker for the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center in St. Louis, Missouri from 1986 (former St. Louis Center for Holocaust Studies). Available online through:
  6. The Weinberg Torah Scroll is held at the Hebrew University College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  7. An interview with Jackie Gerlich conducted by Mike Wallace from 1959. The interview is part of the Mike Wallace Papers located at the Syracuse University archives.
Guide to the Papers of the Salomons-Fox Family
Willem Weber and Dianne Ritchey
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States