Collection of 22 dated letters and a few notes, written in German by Josef Rosenbaum (1877-1943) from his refuge in Amsterdam and sent to his wife Rosalie Rosenbaum-ten Brink and son Walter in New York. The collection contains two short letters written in Dutch by Josef’s host, mrs. Betje Stork-Sanders.
Josef had found refuge with the Stork family at Volkerakstraat 41” in Amsterdam after he fled Dortmund in November 1938. He had been arrested for a second time during Kristallnacht, jailed at the Steinwache and sent to Sachsenhausen. Upon release later during the month he fled to Amsterdam. His son and wife followed… and managed to obtain a USA visa on the basis of Rosalie’s regained Dutch citizenship. They sailed from Rotterdam on 22 October 1939 and settled in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, NYC. For their story, read Walter’s forced wanderings. Josef had to stay behind in Amsterdam. His letters are dated from 23 February 1940 to 19 November 1941. In March 1943 Josef was deported and murdered in Sobibor.
After arrival in New York, Rosalie had bought a passage ticket for her husband to sail to the USA from, presumably, Lisbon.
The letters are written on thin air mail sheets in ‘Sütterlin’ handwriting. On 20-21 March 2014 they were read by mrs. Magrit Erben of Dortmund, Germany. This summary of their content is based on her findings:
Josef’s letters deal almost exclusively with his efforts to obtain the necessary documents for a USA visa and for passage to Lisbon should he receive such visa from the American consul in Rotterdam. Such documents include ‘Form 575’, a declaration from the (German, presumably) tax authorities (Steuerbescheinigung) and various affidavits. The tone of desperation and despair strengthens in the course of the correspondence, the handwriting showing his anger at the hopelessness of his situation. Josef mentions a Gilbert family in the USA that apparently was guarantor for his visa application. In March 1941 he reports that the affidavit from Gilbert has arrived. On his chance of obtaining permission for passage (Ausreisegenehmigung) through, presumably, Germany and France to Lisbon he writes that nobody has ever received such permission.
After the war had ended, the price of Josef’s passage was refunded to his widow in New York.
Joseph Rosenbaum of New York City, grandson to Josef and Rosalie, has donated the collection of letters to the archives of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, where they are available for study (inv. 877; collectie correspondentie 247).