Guide to the Gerard Braunthal Family Collection

AR 25134

Processed by Leanora Lange and Margot Gerson

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in August 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Braunthal, Gerard
Title: Gerard Braunthal Family Collection
Abstract: About half of this collection covers the genealogy of the Braunthal family in France, Austria, Poland, the Ukraine, and the United States as documented by Gerard Braunthal. The other half is devoted the restitution claims made by Frieda Silbermann (later Frances Selby), one of the Braunthal family members. Materials include genealogical tables, vital documents, correspondence, legal documents, and financial records.
Languages: The collection is in English, German, and French.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 25134
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Frieda Silbermann was born in 1898. Her parents were Henriette (Jettel) Braunthal and David Silbermann. They owned a clothing store in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), where Frieda worked from 1915 onwards. After the death of her parents in 1934, she became the sole owner of the store. After Kristallnacht, when the store was looted and damaged, the store was aryanized. Frieda emigrated to England on June 1, 1939, where she changed her name to Frances Harriet Selby and worked as a secretary. In 1958, she moved to France to live with her sister Lotte. She died in 1963.

Through the United Restitution Office in London, Frieda tried to get restitution money for her aryanized property and the belongings that the Nazis had seized. In 1959, she was granted a monthly pension, retroactive to 1953, in compensation for damages to her store and her career.

Gerard Braunthal was born in Gera in 1923. The family moved to Berlin in 1929. In 1933, they moved first to Vienna and then to Brussels. He immigrated to the United States in 1936. He was drafted in 1943 and returned to Germany, where he interrogated Nazi civilians. After discharge from the army, he went back to college and eventually got his Ph.D. from Columbia University. After his marriage to Sabina Frances Diamond in 1950, he spent two years in Stuttgart, where he interviewed German prisoners of war who had been in captivity in the Soviet Union since the 1940s. From 1954 to his retirement in 1987, he taught political science at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection is divided into two sections: genealogy of the Braunthal family and restitution claims of one of the family members, Frieda Silbermann (later Frances Selby).

The genealogical materials include a detailed narrative of the Braunthal family history written by Gerard Braunthal around 2000 and the transcript of an interview on this family history. Also included are extensive genealogical tables covering the branches of the Braunthal family in the United States, France, Austria, Poland, and the Ukraine. Personal papers of family members including copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates, a few clippings, and copies of photographs are included, as well as copies of genealogical materials from Lviv and the Jewish community of Vienna. Most of the genealogical materials (particularly those originating before 1938) are photocopies, and some are accompanied by notes written by Gerard Braunthal. The date of the materials in the container list of this finding aid is the date of the original materials, although for many of these materials, only a photocopy of this original is included in the collection.

Materials related to Frieda Silbermann’s restitution claims include documentation of her emigration, particularly the cost of lift vans. Correspondence, legal documents, and receipts from the late 1940s through the 1960s demonstrate her efforts to claim restitution for the loss of her clothing business, the cost of immigration, and damages to her career.

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Materials are arranged by document type and then chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Gerard Braunthal Family Collection; AR 25134; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Duplicates were removed. Adhesive notes attached to the materials were copied onto non-adhesive paper and the adhesive notes were removed. Where necessary, materials were rehoused into new folders. Empty envelopes that did not add information beyond what is included in the corresponding letter were removed.

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Container List


Gerard Braunthal Family Collection, 1880-2004

1 1 Braunthal family - family history manuscript and interviews by Gerard Braunthal undated, 1999-2003
1 2 Braunthal family - genealogical tables 1999-2004
1 3 Braunthal family - personal papers of family members 1880-2003
1 4 Braunthal family - copies of documents from Lviv and Vienna 1841-1999
1 5 Frieda Silbermann emigration 1940-1949
1 6 Frieda Silbermann restitution 1949-1954
1 7 Frieda Silbermann restitution 1955-1958
1 8 Frieda Silbermann restitution 1959-1964
1 9 Frieda Silbermann receipts and miscellaneous 1951-1964
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