Guide to the Papers of Erica Furnberg (1910-1985)

AR 10807

Processed by Ulrike Schaefer

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2011 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in September 2011. Description is in English.
July 19, 2013  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Furnberg, Erica, 1910-1985
Title: Erica Furnberg Collection
Dates:bulk 1887-1969
Abstract: The collection consists of the correspondence, personal documents and family photos of Erica Furnberg, her mother, and daughter. A large part of the correspondence deals with Erica's attempts to help her sister Magda to emigrate from France to the USA.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, and French and Dutch.
Quantity: 2.75 linear feet.
Identification: AR 10807
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Erica Furnberg (née Loewe) is the creator of this collection. She emigrated from Berlin to New York to escape the Nazis.

Erica was the youngest daughter of Felix Peter Loewe (born May 13,1866) and Margarete Loewe (née Hahn, born May 7, ca. 1870). Margarete and Peter were engaged in May 1894 and got married shortly afterwards. Peter worked in finance in Berlin. Peter died on July 7, 1918. Margarete died in ca. 1935. They are buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Weissensee in Berlin.

Peter and Margarete had three daughters: Magda (born July 16, 1897), Stella (born 1902 or 1903), and Erica (born March 23, 1910). The family lived in Berlin. In the late thirties, Stella emigrated to Charlottenlund in Denmark and Magda moved to Paris and lived there under the name Magdalena / Magdaleina Louve; Erica went to New York in November 1938. There she worked as a private secretary and was also active as a radio performer and later as an amateur producer for plays and musicals. Magda was brought to the French internment camp Gurs on May 23, 1940 and was held there for two years, before she was deported to Auschwitz on August 26, 1942, where she perished. When Gurs was still run by the French, Erica tried to have Magda released so Magda could come to live in the U.S. with her, but all attempts failed or came too late. Stella survived and eventually also moved to New York.

Erica met Fred Furnberg in August 1945 on a vacation. They were married on April 14, 1946.

Fred (in some notes also Fritz) Furnberg (formerly Fürnberg) was born in Austria in 1907. He graduated from the Commercial Academy in Vienna and worked in Paris dealing with fashion goods before he joined his father Samuel Fürnberg's firm where they produced and traded with knitted goods. Fred fled to Birmingham, Alabama in 1938-1939 and studied accounting there. He joined the American Army in January 1943 and moved to New York after he was discharged at the end of 1943. He continued to work as an accountant, export buyer and export manager in the textile sector. Fred died on December 2, 1960.

Erica and Fred had one daughter, Susan Margaret, who was born on April 3, 1951. She graduated from the Hunter College High School in 1969. She went to Albany State University for College and to Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania. Susan died of cancer in February 1982, 30 years old.

The family belonged to the Reform Community of Beth Am in Northern Manhattan, led by Rabbi Israel Raphael Margolies, where Susan also received her "confirmation" in May 1966.

Ruth Inge Loewenstein Love (born 1936) wrote the family memoir that is also included in the collection. She is Fred's niece: her mother was Fred’s sister Trude Furnberg (1908-1991).

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence and personal documents of Erica Furnberg's family, namely of her mother Margarete Loewe, her husband Fred Furnberg, and her daughter Susan. Included in the collection are also documents of other family members. The correspondence consists of about 120 letters and 10 postcards. The correspondents are Felix Peter Loewe, Ottilie Hahn (Margaret's mother), Magda and Stella, officials from consulates, Erica's friends and others, like Erica's employers.

Margarete Hahn's correspondence is private. Her personal documents include her diaries, notebooks and a "Poesiealbum." Her correspondence as well as personal documents can be found in Series I.

Erica's correspondence and personal documents are located in Series II. Her correspondence in the years 1940-1945 mainly relates to her attempts to help her sister Magda out of the Gurs internment camp in 1940-1942. Erica's postwar correspondence is mainly private. Her personal documents include several official documents, one "Poesiealbum", a collection of newspaper clippings and a school workbook.

Fred's documents (Series III) consist of job applications and one personal letter, as well as documents from his school in Austria and a University in New York.

Susan’s documents (Series IV) mostly relate to her schools.

Series V contains belongings of two other family members, Ruth Love and Peter Loewe. Series VI consists of a large collection of photographs, mainly family and vacation pictures, most of which were taken between 1946 and the 1970s.

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The collection is arranged in six series.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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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

Related Material

Related to this collection is a memoir by Ruth Inge Love, The 20th century story of Paula and Samuel Furnberg’s family: from Vienna to three continents[MS 643]. This memoir is digitized and available online.

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Separated Material

The songbook by Carl Loewe (Series V) was removed to the library.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Erica Furnberg Collection; AR 10807; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Similar material was grouped together by format into series, description was added to the finding aid, photographs were sorted chronologically.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Margarete Loewe (née Hahn), 1881-1935

This series is in German.
0.25 linear ft.

By format.

Scope and Content:

This series holds private correspondence (about 60 letters and postcards) as well as personal documents (diaries, notebooks) of Margarete Loewe from the years 1881-1907.

The correspondence can be found in folder 1. Margarete's correspondents are her mother Ottilie Hahn and Peter Felix Loewe. There are letters that Margarete wrote and letters that she received. The majority of the correspondence between Peter and Margarete took place in the years 1893 and 1894 when they got to know each other and fell in love.

Personal documents included in the series (in folder 2) are Margarete and Peter's engagement announcement from May 1894, Margarete’s diaries and notebooks with poetry and stories that she collected and also wrote herself. A "Poesiealbum" is also included. It becomes clear from Margarete’s notes that she suffered from depression, probably because of Peter's early death. One poem she wrote ("Ich habe heimgefunden" in Notebook 1916-1923, folder 2) describes her longing to die in order to be with her husband again. One handwritten note that was added later to the envelope with the diary says that she probably committed suicide. However, Erica writes on June 24, 1942 that "mother got sick and died" (see Series II, folder 3).

11Margarete Loewe's correspondence1881-1907
12Margarete's personal documents1883-1935?
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Series II: Erica Furnberg (née Loewe), 1918-1982

This series is in German, English and French.
0.25 ft.

By format and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series holds Erica’s correspondence 1938-1945 (folder ) and 1946-1982 (folder 4) as well as her personal documents (folder 5) and a collection of newspaper clippings (folder 6).

Erica's correspondence in the years 1938-1945 holds about 45 letters and deals mostly with her sister Magda's efforts to flee from France. The correspondence is very detailed and rich with information about the process Erica went through to help Magda. Since Erica's financial situation was better than Stella's, Erica was in charge of helping Magda. She wired money to Paris, and later she regularly sent money and goods to Gurs. Receipts of the money transactions are included in the series.

Two letters from Stella describe how bad the situation for Magda already was when she lived in Paris. Stella expresses her worries about Magda. Magda's letters to Erica from Gurs describe the situation in the camp very clearly, for example in her letter from September 6, 1940 (folder 3). She talks about the consequences of the German occupation of France for the camp inmates, health and hygiene problems and the lack of food and appropriate clothing. The correspondence also includes copies of letters that Erica wrote to the camp officials and to the American Consulate in order to have Magda released. The collection holds Erica's as well as the family friend Friedrich Heinrich Brunner's affidavits for Magda as well as several documents that were intended to prove Erica's stability and integrity. One long letter from Erica to Magda that was returned in June 1942 describes Erica's life in New York, including a brief summary of the situation of the German-Jewish theatre and music community (mentioning amongst others Conrad Veidt, Oskar Homolka, Felix Bressart, Oskar Karlweiss, Valeska Gert, Trude Berliner and Grete Mosheim). After Magda disappeared, Erica tried to find her and went to different organizations with her search, e.g. the Selfhelp of Emigres from Central Europe, Inc. Erica copied many of the letters that she wrote, so that the conversation is almost entirely included in the series.

Erica's postwar correspondence (about 20 letters and postcards) is mainly private and contains postcards and letters from friends like Lucy and Erich Gutkind. In one long letter, Betsy (a friend of Susan's?) explains from her perspective what had happened when Susan became sick and died of cancer in 1982.

Erica collected newspaper articles that dealt with the Holocaust in general and the Gurs camp in particular. The clippings are mainly from Aufbau, 1940-1945. Her other personal documents include official documents like her marriage certificate and Fred's death certificate, souvenirs, her "Poesiealbum" from 1918 with pieces of wisdom and poems written into it by family and friends, and her school workbook from 1925.

13Erica's correspondence1938-1945
14Erica's correspondence1946-1982
15Erica's personal documents1918-1960s
16Newspaper Clippings1940-1945
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Series III: Fred Furnberg, 1926-1950

This series is in German and English.
0.25 ft.

By format.

Scope and Content:

Series III contains Fred's correspondence and personal documents. His correspondence consists only of four letters and is mainly related to his career. There are letters with résumés that he sent out to apply for jobs in the textile industry. In those letters, he briefly tells his life story as a refugee and immigrant and as a veteran of the American Army. In addition, there is one letter in which he describes his invention of a new type of mattress. The series contains one letter from his mother, congratulating him on his engagement to Erica. Fred's personal documents comprise one certificate from the School of Business and Civic Administration in New York from 1950 and his Maturazeitung, the high school graduation newspaper from Vienna, which is interesting when it comes to education and school culture in Austria in the 1920s.

17Fred's correspondence1946-1950
18Fred's personal documents1926, 1950
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Series IV: Susan Furnberg, 1956-1981

This series is in English.
0.125 ft.

By format.

Scope and Content:

Series IV holds Susan Furnberg's correspondence and personal documents. The correspondence is minimal and only contains a few postcards, including one she sent to her mother from Greece in 1981, shortly before her death. Her personal documents include her high school graduation yearbook and class group photos from elementary school. The series also holds a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania and the family tree that she drew in school, probably in the 1960s.

21Susan's correspondence1969-1981
22Susan's family treeundated, late 1950s
23Susan's school photos and yearbook1956-1969
OS 145Susan's university certificate1977
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Series V: Other Family Members, early 1900s-1998

This series is in German and English.
0.125 ft.

By format.

Scope and Content:

This series hold documents that belong to other family members, namely Ruth Inge L. Love and Peter Loewe.

There is one songbook with songs by the composer Carl Loewe (1796-1869) who was probably related to Felix Peter Loewe. The book has Peter Loewe's name written in it. A copy of this page and the title page were retained in the archival collection, with the book given to the LBI Library.

The family memoir was created by Ruth Inge L. Love, Fred's niece, with whom Erica kept in touch. The central figure in the memoir is "Gute Mutter" Flora Kleinmann (1864-1942), Ruth’s great grandmother, who is not related to Fred by blood. The memoir consists mainly of Flora's letters to her daughter Alice. Flora Kleinmann was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and murdered.

24Songbook by Carl Loeweundated, early 1900s
25Ruth L. Love's family memoir1997-1998
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Series VI: Family Photographs, 1935-1981

This series is in English.
2 linear feet.

By format and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series contains a large amount of family pictures from the years 1935-1981. Most of the pictures were taken after Susan was born in 1951.

The photographs are arranged in two boxes. One of the boxes holds single photos in chronological order. The other box holds 7 photo albums and two folders with loose photo album pages (that were taken out of the actual albums). Most of the single photos are dated or came in an envelope with a date on it.

Most photos depict the Furnberg family on vacation and Susan as a baby and child. In the late 1960s, Susan and Erica went on several trips to Europe including Germany, Austria, Norway, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Great Britain. They also went to Israel. These trips are mostly represented in the photo albums.

Only a few photos were taken at the time of the war, only one of them shows Fred in an army uniform.

The album "Confirmation, Europe, Susan's Prom 1966-1969" holds photos of Margarete and Felix Peter Loewe's grave in Weissensee.

310Undated photos1940s-1950s
316Undated photos1970s
317Slides and film roll1970s
41Baby Photos Susan1951
42Confirmation, Europe, Susan's Prom1966-1969
43Jewish Community1966-1979
44Trip to Europe1967?
45Trip to Europe1969
46Scandinavia and Switzerland1969
47Family Photos1960s
48Trip to Israel1960s
49Family Photos1970s-1981
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