Neumann and Mendel: business and family papers (1850-1984)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of the Neumann family, 1850-1984. Comprising early family documents including a will of 1864 from the Stern family, death notices and certificates of mostly Stern family members and travel pass for Emil Neumann, dated 1922; personal papers of Ludwig Neumann including passports and id cards (unnumbered) amongst which is a Reisepass of the Third Reich stamped with the letter 'J'; copy birth and death certificates, membership cards of the Reichsbund Jüdischer Frontsoldaten (National League of Jewish Combatants) and death notices; personal papers and correspondence of Dina Neumann and Luise Elkisch Neumann including passports and identity cards, testimonials; correspondence from Nazi authorities and British authorities; 'Familienstammbuch' (document registering a marriage) of Richard Elkisch; English hate-mail received around the time of naturalisation, c 1947; personal papers and correspondence of Ludwig Neumann, mostly relating to the re-establishment of the company, Neumann and Mendel in Mönchengladbach. Membership certificates for organisations including the Jewish Community, Mönchengladbach, 1950s; papers regarding transfer of money to Germany; various travel papers; papers regarding tax; papers regarding compensation; family correspondence mostly between Luise and her brother Ludwig (aka Lutz) comprising postcards and small letters, 1919-1947 (mostly 1940s and post war); letters, 1921-1984, many between friends and former acquaintances immediately after the war; early 1950s correspondence, mostly between Luise and Ludwig during Ludwig's stay in Mönchengladbach and business papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The industrial clothing company, Neumann and Mendel , was founded in early 1889 by Emil Neumann and Carl Mendel, the latter dying shortly afterwards, the former retaining sole ownership. At the beginning of the 1890s a sister company was founded at Rhendt which later moved to Mönchengladbach. In 1908 the Essen firm moved to new, larger premises in the same city. By 1914, the 25th Jubilee year, the company employed 1100 people. By 1929, the year of the 40th Jubilee, the firm employed about half as many. After Emil Neumann's death in 1923, his son Ludwig became the sole owner. In accordance with the Nazi policy of 'Aryanisation' the company was forcibly sold to Joseph Herbring, a non-Jew in October 1938.

After the war Ludwig Neumann returned to Germany to reclaim what was rightfully his. The Essen branch of the firm along with most of Essen had been completely destroyed in the bombing during the war. He managed to secure a loan from his sister's frozen German bank account in order to re-establish the business in Germany in 1950. The business had fallen into difficulties and by 1949 was no longer functioning. Ludwig Neumann managed to obtain a work permit and remained for approximately 4 years in Mönchengladbach building up the company once more. It is not clear what the fate of the company was after Ludwig's attempts to rejuvenate it. A letter dated September 1954, shortly after the death of his mother, Dina Neumann, states that they were trying to find a buyer for the machinery. It is probable therefore that the company was broken up and its assets sold off at about this time.

Emil Neumann, born in Hammerstein Provinz, West Prussia in 1861 and living in Essen at the time of his marriage in 1892, married Dina Stern from Felsberg, Hessen, born in 1868. Louis Stern, her brother also worked for the company. He died in 1932. Emil and Dina had two children, Ludwig (aka Lutz) born in 1896 and Luise (aka Liesel, aka Louise) born in 1893. Having served and been wounded during the First World War (for which he was decorated), he studied at the Technical Institute for Textile Industries, Württemberg, 1919-1920, and became the sole owner of the company Neumann and Mendel and manager of the associated export firm of Schrey and Co in 1923 after the death of his father. Luise worked as a nurse in the Friedrich Krupp Krankenhaus, Essen, throughout most of the war. In 1919 she married Richard Elkisch, a Jewish businessman born in Berlin. Hardly anything is known about the latter. Luise was forced to leave her Berlin flat, Kaiseralle 203, in 1938.

In 1938, having been forced to sell the company, Ludwig was interned in Dachau for a couple of months, and released on the understanding that he would leave the country immediately. On his arrival in Great Britain after a period of internment as an enemy alien, he held a number of posts as a production manager in the clothing industry. He returned to Germany in 1950 to resume the management of the family business. Luise and her mother came over to Britain at about the same time and the family settled in Birkenhead where they remained. Dina died in 1954, Ludwig in 1970 and Luise in the 1980s.

Arrangement

The several deposits have been arranged into those relating to the family (1023/1/1-41); those relating to the family business Neumann and Mendel (1023/2/1-17) and ephemera and photographs (1023/3/1-3). Material has been arranged chronologically within each folder except where it was felt that disruption of the original order might destroy the historical context (eg. the alphabetical filing system at 1023/2/15) or that the size and format of the material precluded such an approach (1023/1/38).

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Neumann family

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue www.wienerlibrary.co.uk.

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.

Related Material

1016

Personal Names