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Kurt Roberg Collection

Identifier: AR 25582

Scope and Content Note

The Kurt Roberg Collection consists of papers related to his life as well as the immigration and genealogy of his family. Much of the collection centers on his immigration and military service during World War II. The collection contains a large amount of correspondence, official and other documents, photographs and genealogical research.

Documents on Kurt Roberg's immigration experiences, including his time staying with his uncle Wilhelm Marx in Rotterdam prior to his immigration to the United States via Lisbon, will be found among the correspondence and papers of Series I. This series also holds papers relating to family members' wartime experiences, including his uncle's survival in Rotterdam and the deportation of his aunt Babette Marx. The series includes family correspondence from them and other family in Europe to Kurt Roberg and his mother in New York City. Other papers in this series focus on Kurt Roberg's education, including his schooling in Celle, Germany and practical training in Rotterdam, as well as his early professional life in the United States after World War II. Some of Kurt Roberg's official papers relating to his immigration were originally located among the genealogical research of Series III and have been retained there.

The military service of Kurt Roberg is documented in Series II, which comprises more than half the collection and consists primarily of his extensive and very frequent letters home to his mother Frieda Roberg. This series also contains correspondence of his brother Harry Roberg while he was serving in the military as well. Together their correspondence paints a detailed picture of the daily life and training of soldiers in the U.S. Army during World War II, their deployment to the Pacific and European theaters of operation, and their lives once overseas. The letters provide details of Kurt Roberg's training and duties as a radio and telegraph operator and later as a surveyor as well as Harry Roberg's training and work as an engineer. Included are many descriptions of their living accommodations and entertainment in addition to field, physical and combat training. Harry Roberg's latest letters include information on his regiment's role during the invasion of Normandy prior to their work in American-occupied France, Belgium and Germany. Kurt Roberg's letters from the Philippines mention his work and interaction with others while overseas. In addition this series contains a number of his photographs, among them many showing his work and life in the Philippines.

Information on the history of the Roberg and Marx families will be found in Series III. Among the papers of Series III will be found information on the property owned by Marta Roberg in Lemförde, including restitution correspondence and the restitution decision for the house. This series also includes further information on the Marx family home in Baiertal and its history, such as copies of documentation on its ownership within the family. Other items in this series include articles on several Roberg family members and on the history of Jews in Lemförde. Genealogy of the Robergs including copies of historical documents and family trees are also part of Series III.


  • Creation: 1818, 1882,1904-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1938-1946


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German and Dutch.

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<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Kurt Roberg in U.S. Army uniform" href="" show="embed" title="Kurt Roberg in U.S. Army uniform"/>

Kurt Walter Roberg was born in Celle, Germany on May 16, 1924, the younger son of the merchant Victor Roberg originally of Lemförde, Germany and Selma (called Frieda, née Marx) of Baiertal, Germany. His older brother was Hans Werner (later Harry) Roberg. Victor Roberg had moved to Celle in 1906 and it was there that Kurt Roberg grew up, attending the Städtische Oberrealschule (later the Hermann-Billung-Schule) until November 1938. After his father Victor was arrested during Kristallnacht, Kurt went to live with his uncle Wilhelm Marx in Rotterdam while changing his schooling, studying motor and automobile repairs. His parents and brother emigrated from Holland to New York in April 1940. During the German invasion of Holland in May 1940, Kurt narrowly escaped the bombardment of Rotterdam.

In March 1941 he left for New York, via Berlin and Lisbon, arriving in June. In October 1942 Kurt’s father Victor Roberg died. On August 18, 1943 Kurt Roberg was called to active duty in the U.S. Army, three months after his brother Harry had begun his military training at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. At Camp Adair, Oregon and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri Kurt Roberg trained as a radio and telegraph operator in the 884th Field Artillery Battalion, 70th Infantry Division. In November 1944 he was transferred to Fort Ord CA.The following month he became an American citizen, and served in the Pacific Theatre of War. From February 1945 until March 1946 he was stationed in New Caledonia, then the Philippines, primarily on the island of Leyte. His brother Harry served as part of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment, which participated in the Battle of Normandy as support for the landing of vehicles and supplies on Utah beach and the disassembling of mines.

Wilhelm Marx survived the war and the Nazi occupation of Holland in hiding in Rotterdam, but several other family members were lost. His sister, Babette Marx, was deported from Baiertal in October 1940 to Camp de Gurs and died in Auschwitz in 1942. Kurt Roberg's aunt Sophie Roberg and her son Heinz of Diepholz disappeared in Poland while her other son, Günther Roberg, immigrated to Palestine on the S.S. Patria. Another aunt, Marta Roberg of Lemförde, died during a deportation to Poland in the spring of 1942.

After the war Kurt Roberg entered the photographic wholesale business, where he worked at Service Photo Suppliers, later for many years at the Joshua Meier Corporation until his retirement in 1989. In June 1957 he married Constance Altman, who died in 1989. They had a daughter, Inez, and a son Paul. After his retirement he turned to writing, photography and traveling, including authoring an autobiography (Zwischen Ziegeninsel und Stadtgraben, 2005; A Visa or Your Life, 2009).


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The Kurt Roberg Collection focuses on the immigration and wartime experiences of Kurt Roberg and other members of the Roberg and Marx families, in addition to documentation on the genealogy of the families. The collection contains considerable correspondence, official and other documents, photographs and genealogical research.

Related Material

The LBI Library includes the German and English versions of Kurt Roberg's autobiography:

  1. Zwischen Ziegeninsel und Stadtgraben : eine juedische Kindheit und Jugend in Celle 1924-1938
  2. A visa or your life : a boy's life and the odyssey of his escape from Nazi Germany

The LBI Library also includes the book Heimat und Exil (q 411), on the exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Berlin of the same name that featured many of Kurt Roberg's documents.

Separated Material

A book and a periodical were removed from folder 1/11. These were Het Chassis by D.J. Blad (A. Kemperman, 1938) and Knickerbocker Weekly (Volume 3, Number 21, July 20, 1942), respectively. Copies of the items' title pages have been retained in the folder.

Guide to the Papers of Kurt Roberg 1818, 1882, 1904-2013 AR 25582
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from KurtRoberg.xml

Revision Statements

  • March 26, 2014 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.
  • January 16, 2018 : Links to digital objects added in Addenda.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States