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Karl Bach papers 1988.1308
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Scope and Contents note

  • Title: Karl Bach papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 1988.1308
    Contributing Institution: Tauber Holocaust Library
    Language of Material: Multiple languages
    Container: Archives Box 6
    Physical Description: 1.0 Folder(s)
    Date (inclusive): 1938-1949
    Language of Materials note: Materials are in English and German. English language translations are available for German materials.
    Abstract: This collection is comprised of the correspondence of German emigrant Karl Bach realting to his efforts to obtain visas to the United States for family members living in Germany. The correspondence spans the years 1938-1941, and includes both personal and official letters.
    Creator: Bach, Karl

    Biographical/Historical note

    Absent biographical sources, this collection history and biography is drawn from the documents themselves and is supplemented by copies of ship manifests obtained through online genealogical resources.
    The collection documents the experiences of the extended German Jewish Katten family of Halsdorf, Germany. The extended Katten family included two sisters - Paula Katten Bach (b. 1886) and Johanna Katten Lowenstein (b. 1896) -- and two brothers -- Herman Katten (b. 1890) and Meier Katten (birthdate unknown). Paula Katten Bach was married to Leopold Bach (b. 1886); they had two children -- Karl Bach (b. 1917) and Sanni Bach (b. 1919). Johanna Katten Lowenstein was a widow with four children - Karl, Jenny, Trude and Friedrich. Herman Katten emigrated to the United States in 1902, at the age of 13, to join family members in Stockton, California. The children of Meier Katten included Fritz Katten (b. 1914), Sanni Katten Hammerschlag (b.1916), Ilse Katten (b. 1920) and Herman Katten (b. 1922). Hermann Hammerschlag (b. 1895) was the husband of Sanni.
    Karl Bach emigrated to the United States from Germany. He arrived in the United States on April 2, 1937, sponsored by his uncle Meier Katten. His parents, Leopold and Paula Katten Bach, and his sister Sanni arrived in October of the same year.
    Fritz Katten and Herman Katten had emigrated earlier; Fritz arrived on April 24, 1934 and Herman, the youngest of that family, arrived on May 18, 1936. Both were sponsored by their uncle Herman Katten, who lived in Stockton, California.
    Other members of the Katten family remained in Germany. In March 1938 Mr. Bach was living in New York City, where he approached a distant relative, Helen Elman, wife of violinst Mischa Elman, to persuade her to assist in providing affidavits for family members in Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Elman sponsored the Hammberschlags and they arrived in the United States on July 13, 1939. Ilse Katten was sponsored by Leopold Bach, who was then living in San Francisco, California, and arrived on October 25, 1939. Their parents, sponsored by Hermann Hammberschlag, arrived in New York on December 24, 1940.
    The Lowenstein family remained behind. Karl Bach made extraordinary efforts to secure their freedom, but documents in the collection, confirmed by the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims' Names Database, indicate that the family was not able to leave and that all its members perished during the Holocaust.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    There are no restrictions to use for this collection.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    There are no restrictions to access for this collection.

    Preferred Citation note

    Karl Bach papers, Collection No. 1988.1308, Tauber Holocaust Library - JFCS Holocaust Center, San Francisco, California

    Scope and Contents note

    This collection, composed of family and official correspondence, documents the attempts of a family of American Jews and recent emigrants to obtain visas for family members left behind in Europe. The correspondence, which spans the years 1939-1941, is in English and in German; English translations are available. It is arranged in chronological order.
    The collection concerns the extended family of Bach, Katten, Hammerschlag and Loewestein. Correspondence includes a handwritten note from the wife of the violinist Mischa Elman, a relative of the family.
    Family correspondence includes letters written by Karl Bach to cousins in Germany about his efforts to obtain affidavits on their behalf, as well as a poignant letter written by his cousin Ilse who was hoping to emigrate. Official correspondence includes letters of reference, and numerous exchanges from aid organizations.
    The collection may be of interest to those wishing to learn more about the frustrations and difficulties of obtaining necessary documentation and funding for affidavits and visas, and provides insight into sometimes troublesome family dynamics.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Elman, Helen K., 1899-1994
    Elman, Mischa, 1891-1967
    Germany -- Emigration and immigration
    Jewish families -- correspondence
    Jewish families -- Germany
    Jewish refugees -- Germany