MS 125 The Mansbach Family Papers

Posted on March 22nd, 2012 by

Family collections can take genealogy beyond the family tree.  Not only can genealogists dig out familial connections, birth and death dates, but they can sometimes see objects that their ancestors touched or even created – a letter written in their great-grandfather’s hand perhaps, or their great-aunt’s wedding dress.  But family collections are also useful to historians in general.  Where a genealogist sees a new branch to add to the family tree a professor might see a new perspective on immigration, a deeper understanding of culture, etc.  The following collection contains information about one family, but also information about immigration and the Holocaust

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Shabbat Challah cover used by the Masbach family. 1994.136.10

Mansbach Family

Papers, n.d., 1866 – c. 1975

MS 125

The Jewish Museum of Maryland

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The Mansbach Family Papers were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Irene Mansbach Russel in 1994 as accession 1994.136 and 1994.142, in 2001 as 2001.074 and in 2003 as accession 2003.101.  Robin Waldman processed the collection in 2003.  Additional materials (including folders 80-85) were added in 2004 as accession 2004.47 and the finding aid was updated in April 2005 to reflect these additions.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

Leo Mansbach taken in Germany, 1939. 1994.142.55

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

Bernhard Mansbach (1900-1981), son of Hermann Mansbach and Sophie Loewenstein Mansbach, left Germany in February 1939 and arrived in England March 1939.  He had a tourist visa that did not permit him to work.  He lived with his brother, Leo Mansbach, and his parents, who came to England shortly after Bernhard, until October 1939 when he left England for the United States.  Hermann and Sophie settled in England, and Leo came to Baltimore in 1948.  A third brother, Edmund Mansbach, b. 1896, was never successful in leavingGermany.  He died in a concentration camp c. 1940-1942.

Hertha Phillips Mansbach (1905-1996) was born in Oberhausen, Germany to Bernhard Phillips and Jetchen Oberdorfer Phillips, and later lived in Mulheim.  Hertha left Germany in December 1939.  She traveled via train to Antwerp where she boarded a Holland-Amerika ship in January 1940 and sailed via South Hampton, England to New York, arriving January 20, 1940. Hertha Phillips married Bernhard Mansbach, whom she had known in Germany, on November 3, 1940.  They lived at 2120 Brookfield Avenue until February 1944, when they moved to 2613 Reisterstown Road.  Shortly thereafter, in April 1944, Hertha gave birth to their only child, a daughter named Irene Mansbach.

George Mansbach, who was not related to Bernhard Mansbach in any way, was an American who lived inBaltimore.  When Bernhard began writing to American citizens who bore his last name in an attempt to secure assistance in leavingGermany, George agreed to provide affidavits. Once Bernhard arrived inBaltimore, George was of further assistance, helping him to secure employment, and later helping Bernhard obtain a refund for his deceased brother Edmund’s ship fare to theUnited States.  Bernhard and Hertha invited George and his wife to their wedding, but the American Mansbachs were unable to attend.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Mansbach Family Papers contain records that document the family’s attempts to flee Nazi Germany and establish themselves inEnglandand finally, in theUnited States.  Records include correspondence, affidavits, immigration documents and identity documents.  Both English and German documents are included in this collection.

Notes:  See database for location of related photographs 1994.142.55, 1994.142.62.1, 1994.142.62.2.  See also JMM OH #528, Irene Mansbach Interview, April 1, 2002 for further information.

Baltimore tailoring establishment where Bernard Mansbach worked, n.d. 1994.142.62.2

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Lives Lost, Lives Found and Chapter Two

Posted on May 27th, 2011 by

Chapter Two is an educational program of the Associated, designed for women. Participants learn about themselves, are educated about the Associated and its agencies, and take part in experiential learning and hands-on social action.  Today our group visited the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  We had the opportunity to participate in an educational program (usually offered to school groups) based on the JMM’s past exhibit, Lives Lost, Lives Found.

Herta Griffel and her foster family, 1942. Courtesy of Herta Griffel Baitch, L2003.75.14

We examined reproductions of photographs that had been on display in the exhibit.  We were asked to use critical thinking skills to make educated guesses based on what was observed. We had time to observe a photo and answer questions regarding it which included the setting, the individuals and the story.  We concluded by writing a caption.

While stationed in Europe, Max Knisbacher visited relatives who had survived the Holocaust, 1945. Courtesy of Jeffrey Knisbacher, L2003.64.4

In total, five photos were presented.  We were told that there were no wrong answers, to be open minded, and look carefully at the images.  Clearly, we made some wrong guesses but the exercise was stimulating and enjoyed by all.

Relatives saying goodbye to members of the Cohen Family as they leave Holland, July 1939. Courtesy of Rudolph Cohen, L2003.63.3

We met the Weil Family of Freiberg, Germany in 1925.  We observed a photo from the US Holocaust Museum that showed Jews being forced to scrub the street in Vienna while crowds watched in 1938.  We saw relatives saying goodbye to members of the Cohen family as they departed by ship from Holland in 1939.  There was a picture of Herta Griffel, a child whose mother sent her to America by herself at the age of 7, with her foster family.  Lastly, we witnessed Max Knisbacher, a survivor of the Holocaust, who became an American soldier, and while in Paris in 1945 he was reunited with his half sister and niece.

 

The Weil Family of Freiberg, Germany, on vacation in 1925. Courtesy of Julius Mandel and Brenda Weil Mandel,L2002.103.1152

One of our group members’ mother was featured in the DVD that we viewed following the exercise and the mother of a friend of some members was also featured.  Someone else was known to others as a fellow synagogue congregant.  We learned not only of individual stories of the Holocaust but were reminded of how far reaching, personal and local the survivor’s stories really are.

 

A blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen.

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November at the JMM

Posted on December 3rd, 2010 by

I just finished compiling stats for November 2010 at the JMM. Every month, I tally our on-site attendance with separate categories dedicated to walk-in visitors, adult group members, schools, special events, and rentals. I am now in my 9th year as “keeper of the stats” and it is interesting to compare and contrast the ebb and flow of visitation over the years as we try and track trends and determine the various factors (weather, season, new exhibitions, popular programs, etc.) that seem to encourage higher numbers of visitors. School groups, in particular, are a special area of interest. As we work to promote our programs and resources to even larger numbers of school groups, I always pay particular attention to our monthly totals in an effort to discern how we can continue to grow our program.

November was a banner month for school groups. During the month, we served 834 students, teachers, and chaperons (as compared to just over 400 last November). One of the most influential factors driving school group visitation during the month was our installation of the exhibition, A Blessing To One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People. While many groups booked visits to see this exhibition – and we also saw the number of walk-in visitors rise – Catholic schools, in particular, demonstrated a high level of interest in bringing groups to see the exhibition. During November alone, we served 606 students, teachers, and chaperons from Catholic schools and universities.

One of the challenges in serving such large number of student groups is the limited space within the gallery housing A Blessing To One Another. As many of our docents have pointed out, ideal group sizes for a guided exhibition tour is 15 or fewer and yet, the average size group of students is larger than 50. It, therefore, becomes necessary to break the classes into smaller groups and rotate each group through various stations. This also necessitates bringing on additional volunteer docents and staff to help facilitate.

On November 16, 75 students from The Catholic High School, an all-girls school in Baltimore City, visited for a half-day trip. The large number of students necessitated some creative thinking as to how we could break them into smaller groups and facilitate meaningful activities with each group. We decided to split them into four groups. Two groups were combined for an Introduction to Judaism program in the Lloyd Street Synagogue (which can accommodate larger numbers of students) where students learned about Jewish history, traditions, and customs. This station proved to be a terrific complement to the Blessing To One Another exhibition where students could ask questions and probe the significance of Jewish ritual items.

Catholic HS girls participating in an Introduction to Judaism program led by JMM docent Lois Fekete

Catholic HS girls participating in an Introduction to Judaism program led by JMM docent Lois Fekete

The other two groups were split between A Blessing To One Another and The Synagogue Speaks! exhibition that explores the histories of the three different congregational groups (including a Lithuanian Catholic church) that occupied the Lloyd Street Synagogue at different times in history. The Synagogue Speaks! station included hands-on interactive activities that encouraged students to work together in teams and to solve mysteries of how the building changed over time.

Catholic HS students creating watercolors in The Synagogue Speaks!

Catholic HS students creating watercolors in The Synagogue Speaks!

The program culminated with a presentation by Holocaust survivor Rachel Bodner who shared her personal experiences of life before, during, and after the Holocaust.

Catholic HS students listening to Holocaust survivor, Rachel Bodner

Catholic HS students listening to Holocaust survivor, Rachel Bodner

Through these various activities and presentations, students received an intensive learning experience that touched on many aspects of their classroom lessons. One of the teachers from The Catholic High School shared his feedback about the field trip with JMM staff: “Thank you so much for helping to plan our experience at the museum. My students had an amazing experience and are still talking about it today. I cannot express how grateful I am for the museum, you, your staff, the volunteers, and the wonderful programs that you have available. The other faculty members and myself were discussing how we can incorporate the museum into our curriculum to make it a yearly event.”

The next day, we received a visit by a joint group of students visiting from St. Frances Academy and Shoshana S. Cardin High School. This interfaith gathering of students of Jewish and Catholic faiths was inspired by the Blessing To One Another exhibition. Students were split into small mixed groups and toured the exhibition with the assistance of worksheets looking for examples of how Pope John Paul II worked towards building positive relationships between Jews and Catholics throughout his life. As I walked through the exhibit asking students if they needed assistance finding answers to worksheet questions, I kept hearing from students that they were equally interested in getting to know their peers from the other school and they were conversing about mutual interest in sports, music, etc. I took this as a sign that the program was successful!

Again, we received positive feedback about the field trip from both teachers and students. “I just wanted to thank you for the experience yesterday.  It proved to be a wonderful example of Judeo-Christian camaraderie and dialogue.  I thought it went great, and my students were genuinely interested throughout the visit.  I could not even get anyone to admit to liking one part of the day over the other, they said again and again, that it was great from beginning to end.”

While we are always pleased to serve high numbers of students and teachers, we are even more concerned with the quality of the programs. Feedback that we receive through teacher and student surveys (such as the comments shared above) provides guidance as we plan new programs and activities. We are grateful to all of the JMM staff and volunteer docents who provided such superior service for school groups this month and look forward to developing new tours, resources, and activities in the months ahead.

While it was an exhausting month, comments from students such as this St. Frances Academy student, truly make it all worthwhile!

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