Richard and Gisela Bernstein: personal papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains papers (photocopies) relating to the fate of the Jewish family of Richard and Gisela Bernstein and their children Heinz and Susanne. Whilst the children emigrated to England as Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime, their parents could not escape deportation to Auschwitz despite them moving to Oslo.

Included are birth and death certificates, correspondence from the parents in Prague and later Oslo to their children in England, Red Cross letters sent to the parents in Oslo, photographs and Susanne Medas' personal accounts concerning her family's life in the 1920s and 1930s and her experiences as a Kindertransportee. Also included are lists of Czech children emigrating on Kindertransports.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Bernstein (1882-1943) was a journalist and socialist from Vienna. Between 1906 and 1910 he was party editor and district officer of the Association for the Young Austrian Workers in Gablonz. Whilst he was in Gablonz he met and married Gisela Kolisch (1888-1942). They had two children, Adolf Heinrich ("Heinz") (1915-1968) and Susanne Johanna (born 1923). Between 1910 and 1919 he worked at the parliamentary office of the SPD president. From 1919 he was employed as editor of "Vorwärts" (social democratic weekly news journal) and correspondent of the Viennese "Arbeiter Zeitung". After 1933 he worked as foreign correspondent in Prague where he had fled into exile. In 1939 Richard Bernstein contacted relatives in the United States to obtain visas to leave Prague but was unsuccessful. In the same year Gisela and Richard Bernstein sent their children to England. Gisela emigrated on a Kindertransport in July 1939.

The couple managed to move to Oslo in August 1939. Richard was detained at Grini concentration camp at the beginning of 1941 for one year. In the summer of 1942 both Gisela and Richard were deported with other German Jews in Norway to Grini concentration camp. In November that year Gisela together with other women and children was taken to Auschwitz where she was murdered soon after her arrival. Richard Bernstein was also taken to Auschwitz. He perished in 1943.

Arrangement

Chronological and by subject

Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Susanne Medas

Note

2009/34

Related Material

For photographs see photo server WL8111, WL8119, WL8149, WL8152