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Typewriter - Flight and Rescue

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 “I truly believe that it won’t be a separation for a long time

and that we will see each other very soon.”

These encouraging lines were written by the 22-year old Kurt Rosenberg to his parents in August 1938.  He was unaware that he would never see his family united. 

The typewriter and a collection of letters were brought to the Holocaust Center for Humanity by Kurt’s sister, Seattle resident Ursula Brown. 

 

KurtCamera smallThe 21 year-old photographer Kurt Rosenberg immigrated to the United States in early 1938 with the help of his employer, the Leitz Company. Leitz was best known for their Leica cameras. As Nazi treatment of Jews in Germany worsened in the early 1930’s, the Leitz Company sent its Jewish employees abroad to work and to escape Nazi persecution. 

Besides his Leica camera, Kurt brought with him his German typewriter. Almost every day he typed letters to his family in Germany and to his aunt Grete, who fled Germany and moved to Israel (then called Palestine) a few years earlier. 

The letters began as conversational – Kurt described his work and his new life in America. His letters kept his dispersed family connected and carbon copies of each letter were sent to his relatives between the United States, Germany, and Palestine.

As life for Jewish people in Nazi Germany became more difficult, Kurt’s letters to his family became more urgent as he pressured his parents to send his youngest siblings, twins Ursula and Gert, to the United States. 

 

My dear parents!

…You are writing so depressed – I can understand that it is not easy for you to let Ursula and Gert go too! I would be so lucky if both of them were here at last... I truly believe that it won’t be a separation for a long time and that we will see each other very soon. …

Greetings from your

 

In his letters, Kurt gives concrete instructions on visa procedures in order to help secure the emigration of his siblings. After numerous attempts, the twins managed to find a way onto a Kinderstransport in 1939, and one year later immigrated to the United States.

Kurt’s story ends in tragedy. His mother died in 1939, before having the opportunity to see her youngest children safely leave Germany. Just a few months after the twins arrived in the U.S., Gert, at the age of 18, committed suicide. Kurt’s last letters to Germany show his unsuccessful attempt to save his 65 year-old father, who died in the Lodz ghetto in 1942. 

Kurt enlisted in the United States Army in April 1943, and a year later, only months before receiving his American certificate of naturalization, was killed in action. All of Kurt’s relatives who stayed in Germany were killed during the Holocaust. Kurt’s youngest sister, Ursula, who recently passed away, was the only surviving member of the family.

Additional Resources

"Leica Freedom Train"

Kurt Rosenberg's detailed biography, part 1

Kurt Rosenberg's detailed biography, part 2