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Margot Lesser Family Collection

Identifier: AR 11948

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains documents relating to Margot Lesser and her ancestors. Documents relating to Margot Lesser include a brief notarized biographical statement, two small photographs, a will, some correspondence, and a birth certificate. Also found in this collection are documents related to Salomon Lesser's estate; a small amount of correspondence related to Joseph Bresch, Jennie Bresch née Lesser, and Bronislawa Cassel; and genealogical tables and a Lesser family history.


  • 1889-1998


Language of Materials

This collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Biographical Note

Mayer Lesser became a Prussian citizen in 1834 under the Naturalization Law of 1833. Mayer’s son, Abraham Lesser, owned a mill in Schwersenz, an eastern suburb of Posen. Abraham had three sons: Moritz, Gustav – who eventually took over the mill, and Salomon Lesser.

Abraham’s eldest son, Moritz, became a manager of a textile plant in Lodz during the 1870s and 1880s. After that, Moritz returned to Posen to establish a dairy business that supplied what became the Tietz department store chain, and he settled in Berlin with his daughters Jennie, Stefanie, and Bronislawa. Moritz Lesser was forced to liquidate his firm after 1933. He was deported in 1943 and died in Theresienstadt.

Abraham’s youngest son Salomon Lesser (d. 1943) moved as a youth to San Francisco, where he was employed by relatives of the Phillips family. By 1879, he and David Phillips had established an import business in Honolulu, dealing in pineapples, sugar and Cuban tobacco. In 1905, he visited Berlin and became friendly with his brother’s daughter Stefanie. They married and had two children, Margot and Frances. Stefanie died in the flu epidemic of 1918.

As US citizens, Salomon Lesser and his daughters were safe from deportation until 1941, when they were interned in various camps. Salomon Lesser died shortly after being released from an internment camp in 1943.

Bronislawa Lesser married Gregor Cassel, and Moritz incorporated his firm as Lesser and Cassel in Berlin. She emigrated to Shanghai via Switzerland and Italy. After the war, she moved to San Francisco. She died in 1987. Her sister, Jennie Lesser moved to New York, where she performed as a singer and an actress, changing her name to Ilka Lenz. She married Joseph Bresch.

Margot Lesser (1914-1998) was born to Salomon and Stefanie Lesser. She grew up in Berlin as an American citizen, due to her father's American citizenship. In 1941, she was interned as an enemy national. After being freed by American troops in 1944, she went to live with her aunt Jennie Bresch in New York. She died in 1998 in Miami Beach, Florida.


2 Folders


This collection contains documents relating to Margot Lesser and her ancestors. These include vital documents, correspondence, and genealogical material.

Separated Material

Some photos were removed to the LBI Photograph collection and digitized.

Guide to the Margot Lesser Family Collection undated, 1889-1998 AR 11948
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann and LBI staff
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • January 9, 2017 : 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