By Noa Gutow-Ellis, Collections and Exhibitions Assistant
When Suzanne and Henry Bauer, German Jewish immigrants to New York in 1937 and 1940, respectively, were in their early 20s they heard that their parents, Ludwig and Irma Bauer, had been deported from their home in Mannheim, Germany to the unoccupied zone of France. On display in Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is the paper trail documenting the attempts of the Bauer siblings to bring relief to, and attempt to rescue, their par (opens in a new tabents.
Visitors to the exhibition can read the affidavits filed by Suzanne and Henry on behalf of their parents’ United States visa applications that they hoped would allow their parents release from the Gurs internment camp. The paper collection expands to narrate the family’s waiting, the angst, and the repeated and varied attempts Suzanne and Henry made in their desperation to save their parents from the Nazis. Receipts from the New World Trading Company show Suzanne and Henry sending care packages of food and other goods to their interned parents. Confirmations from the American Friends Service Committee reflect the siblings transferring money to their parents.
Although selected items in Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. focus on the efforts of the Bauer siblings to aid or to rescue their parents from the Gurs camp, the Museum’s broader collection offers a storied, multifaceted look into the lives of members of the Bauer family.
Photos taken by Henry Bauer on November 9, 1938 record the family’s ransacked home following Kristallnacht. He returned home from work that day to find his mother in tears. Henry’s father had been arrested and their apartment destroyed.
For all that the Bauer family artifacts illuminate about their lives during the war, the Museum also holds artifacts concerning the lives the siblings led in the United States afterwards.
Suzanne contributed to the United Jewish Appeal in 1944 while Henry served in the U.S. Army. Among his duties was to act as an interpreter between German prisoners of war and American officers. Suzanne and Henry were active members of their New Jersey and New York communities. That we can learn the many stories of the Bauer family is a testament to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s collection.
The artifacts illuminate how the Museum’s collecting practices are deeply intertwined with each individual family story. Suzanne and Henry continued to send assistance to their interned parents well into the summer of 1942 even after they stopped hearing from their parents. Eventually, the siblings learned that their parents had been placed under the authority of Adolf Eichmann in the summer of 1942 by France’s Vichy government. Eichmann issued the orders to transfer the interned Jews to Auschwitz. Suzanne and Henry’s parents, Ludwig, 59, and Irma, 48, were murdered upon arrival to Auschwitz in August 1942.
Some of the photos Henry Bauer took of the Kristallnacht ransacking of his family home are in the slideshow below.