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Henry Hans Politzer Collection

Identifier: AR 11034


The collection contains Henry Politzer’s Questionnaire I + II of the Austrian Heritage Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. Also included are original documents pertaining to his father’s emigration from Austria in 1941.


  • 1938-1999


Language of Materials

This collection is in English, German.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the link 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

Henry (Hans) Politzer was born 1919 in Vienna, Austria into a conservative Jewish family. His father, a World War I Austrian war veteran, owned and operated a jewelry store in Vienna. His mother was a prominent volunteer social worker for orphanages and a women's rights advocate who was awarded the title "Federal Adviser on Social Welfare to the Poor" by the Austrian government. She was so highly respected, Politzer recalls, that the mother of Austria's first president attended Politzer's bar mitzvah.

Politzer attended Realgymnasium and following graduation in 1937 enlisted in the Austrian army as a "one-year volunteer" so that he could fulfill his mandatory subscription into the army while not interfering with his planned university education. He was in the Austrian army when Germany annexed Austria on March 13, 1938. Since the Austrian army was incorporated into the German army, he was required to swear allegiance to Hitler and to the Third Reich even though it was known that he was Jewish. His commanding officer then gave Politzer a medical furlough. While on furlough he was picked up by Nazi storm troopers and forced to scrub streets by hand. He was released, however, when he presented his army papers. Through a relative who held a position at the Colombian Consulate in Vienna, Politzer was able to obtain a visa for emigration to Colombia. He left for Colombia in the summer of 1938. The jewelry store owned by Politzer's father was confiscated by the Nazis, and he was given a small monthly subsistence allowance as compensation. Politzer's mother was able to emigrate to England in May 1939 as a domestic servant and later joined him in Bogota, Colombia. His father left Vienna for the United States in May 1941. Politzer moved to the United States in 1944 and was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in the Pacific theatre and was part of the occupation forces in Japan.

Politzer notes that most of his family managed to leave Germany before the deportations and exterminations began, with the exception of one aunt whose fate remained unknown. One of his uncles, who was married to a Catholic woman, was hidden in one of Vienna's Catholic churches during the entire war.


1 Folders (6 items)

Other Finding Aid

Inventory in file


Austrian Heritage Collection, AHC 883.


Other identifiers include: MF 708.

Henry Hans Politzer Collection, 1938-1999 AR 11034
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Revision Statements

  • April 2015:: dao link added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States