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Frank M Shurman Collection

Identifier: AR 25219

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life and memorable experiences of Frank M. Shurman. The papers of this collection are largely comprised of personal correspondence, but additionally include clippings, notes, unpublished manuscripts of Frank Shurman's writing, official and legal papers, and a handful of photographs of friends or family members.

Following the events of World War II and the Holocaust, Frank Shurman promoted the reconciliation of German Jews and gentiles, and was awarded the German Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) for his efforts; his work and attitude towards reconciliation is seen in several areas of this collection. In Series I, such material primarily consists of the papers from his work in World War II, when Shurman worked with German prisoners of war. These reports include his memorandum to superior officers regarding the shifting attitudes of the POWs. In addition, a photocopy of the certificate Shurman received for the Bundesverdienstkreuz is also present in the folder of "Other Papers". His obituary and curriculum vitae in Series I also mention this award. Several folders of correspondence from Series II document Shurman's reconciliation efforts. Primary among these is the folder of correspondence mentioning the awarding of the Bundesverdienstkreuz. The folder of letters from the Army Service Forces contains letters from commanding officers commending Shurman on his fairness in his work with POWs. In addition, some letters from the 1940s include his recommendation to members of the War Department regarding the rebuilding of Germany in addition to a postcard from a former POW.

Frank Shurman's own personal experiences of Kristallnacht and Buchenwald as well as the Holocaust in general are frequently encountered in this collection. His personal experiences are documented most prominently in Series IV: Writings and Scrapbooks. Among the papers of this series is a description of his time in Buchenwald and a German translation of his memoir All Our Hope are You [ME 598]. A folder of copies of correspondence with Dotty Hamilton, who is largely featured in this memoir, is present in Series II. The correspondence between Gerhard Löffler and Frank Shurman (Series II and Series IV) also mentions this time period. The scrapbooks of this collection also hold material on the Holocaust in general as well as the fate of the Schürmann family. Material on the Holocaust and Kristallnacht in general, especially in the town of Hildesheim, will be found in Series V.

Papers on Schürmann/ Shurman family members are also present in this collection, in addition to the previously mentioned scrapbook on the family in Series IV. Correspondence between Frank Shurman and his father Willy as well as a few letters of his father are located in Series II. A very small amount of correspondence between Frank Shurman and his siblings is also located in this series. Most of the papers relating to the family will be found in Series III. The documents of this series include notes on the family genealogy, papers of individual family members, a few papers relating to immigration, and English translations of correspondence of the family members of Albert Schürmann, who were unable to escape Nazi Germany.

There is some material in this collection regarding the Deutscher Vortrupp, the German-Jewish nationalistic organization founded by Hans-Joachim Schoeps to which Frank Shurman belonged. In the folder of Objects there is a pin with a the stylized letters DV that may have been a membership pin for the Deutscher Vortrupp. Among the folder of correspondence from the early 1930s in Series II, Subseries 2 is a copy of the response from the offices of the Wehrmacht to Frank Shurman's request to volunteer for the military in spite of his Jewish heritage, an act undertaken by all the members of the Deutscher Vortrupp. In addition, Shurman's early correspondence with Gerhard Löffler, found in Series II and Series IV, often discusses the organization and includes the traditional Deutscher Vortrupp closing: "Bereit für Deutschland." (Ready for Germany). Some clippings on Hans-Joachim Schoeps as well as his son and father, will be found in Series V.


  • 1908-1992
  • Majority of material found within 1970s-1990s


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.

Collection is microfilmed (MF 997).

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.

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

Frank Shurman was born as Fritz Schürmann on January 8, 1915 in Hildesheim, Germany, the son of businessman Willy Schürmann and Alma Schürmann née Müller. His father founded the Willy Schürmann firm in Hildesheim, a leading custom-tailoring business. After completing his general studies at the Gymnasium Josephinum in Hildesheim, Frank Shurman attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hildesheim, followed by the Europäische Moden Akadamie in Dresden. From 1934-1937 he undertook professional apprenticeships at various businesses in Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, and Berlin. By 1937 he was working in his father's firm in Hildesheim.

In 1934 Frank Shurman became a member of the German-Jewish nationalistic group, the Deutscher Vortrupp (German Vanguard). Notable among its activities was the group's decision to volunteer for service in the German army, which Frank Shurman did in 1935; admission to the army was consequently refused several months later due to his non-Aryan status.

In May 1938 the Gestapo confiscated the files of Willy Schürmann's firm. The business was liquidated shortly thereafter. In August 1938, Frank Shurman met Agusta Rahr ("Dotty") Hamilton, by way of a friend of the family. In spite of hardly knowing him or the other members of the Schürmann family, Dotty Hamilton agreed to provide him (and, eventually, his parents and sister) with affidavits of support for their visas for the United States (A detailed description of Dotty Hamilton's assistance and effect on Frank Shurman's life is available in the memoir All Our Hope are You For many years Frank Shurman worked as a clothing designer and manufacturers' representative for the St. Croix Knitwear Company of Winona, Minnesota. He also established an endowment, the Agusta Rahr Hamilton Fund of the Jewish Studies program at Wellesley College in honor of Dotty Hamilton, whose support he credited with saving his and his family members' lives by allowing them to leave Nazi Germany. In 1976 Germany awarded Frank Shurman the Bundesverdienstkreuz Erster Klasse (Federal Cross of Merit, First Class) for his work in helping to rebuild post-war Germany. Frank Shurman returned to Germany nine times after his immigration, including in 1988, when he participated in the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht in Hildesheim. Frank Shurman died in September 1999.


2.75 Linear Feet


This collection documents the life and significant experiences of Frank M. Sherman. Prominent themes in this collection are his work for the United States military during World War II, his and his family's experiences in Nazi Germany, and his membership in the Deutscher Vortrupp. The collection consists of a large amount of correspondence as well as clippings, audiocassettes, publications, scrapbooks, official papers, notes, and a few photographs of friends or family members.


The collection is on five reels of microfilm (MF 997):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/37
  2. Reel 2: 1/38 - 1/80
  3. Reel 3: 2/1 - 2/5
  4. Reel 4: 2/6 - 2/19
  5. Reel 5: 2/20 - 4/2
  6. Reel 6: 4/3 - OS 132

Related Material

Frank Shurman's memoir, All Our Hope are You: a True Story about a Great Woman and her Compassion for Strangers in Need [ME 598] is available in the Memoir Collection of the LBI.

Separated Material

Some audio cassette tapes from this collection have been removed to the Audiovisual Collection. See Series VII.

The book Forest of the Dead by Ernst Weichert was removed to the LBI Library.

Processing Information

The collection was organized by forming series through grouping similar materials or papers concerned with related topics together during the processing of the collection. Description of the collection was added to the finding aid and superfluous copies of identical documents were also removed from the collection.

The book Forest of the Dead, by Enrst Weichert was removed from folder 4/6 to the LBI Library. Pages with notes were photocopied and retained in the archival collection.

Guide to the Papers of Frank M. Shurman (1915-1999) 1908-1992 AR 25219 / MF 997
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from FrankShurman.xml

Revision Statements

  • March 2009.: Series VI added.
  • July 2009.: Separated Material and Processing Information edited. OS box number changed.
  • November 2009.: Microfilm inventory added.
  • December 2009.: Reel 6 added to microfilm inventory.
  • March 2011: Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States