This collection contains press cuttings and correspondence from Werner Simsohn relating to his publication on the history of Jews in Gera, Thuringia ('Geschichte der Juden in Gera'). Also included are speeches held at the honorary citizen awards ceremony for Simsohn in 1998, and draft extract from his publication regarding the Jewish families from Gera bearing the name Wernik.
Ruth Sommerfeld: papers relating to Werner Simsohn's publication on the history of Jews in Gera
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Werner Simsohn (1924-2001) was a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. He was born in Berlin but grew up in Gera, Thuringia. He experienced the discrimination and persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime as a child and teenager. His father Julius Simsohn was initially imprisoned at Buchenwald concentration camp but returned home to Gera. Despite his 'Arian' wife's efforts to prevent her husband being deported he was taken to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944, where he died. Werner Simsohn was sent to an 'Erziehungslager' (labour camp) at the Buna-Werke GmbH Schkopau, near Merseburg, in November 1944. He managed to flee in the last weeks before the end of the Second World War and survived.
In the 1970s Simsohn started his research into the history of Jews in Gera. Due to the lack of archival sources he conducted numerous interviews with survivors in order to document the fate of the Jewish families in Gera. His work 'Geschichte der Juden in Gera' was published in four parts between 1997 and 2000. Werner Simsohn was bestowed honorary citizen of Gera in November 1998.
Ruth Sommerfeld was one of the Jewish refugee survivors from Gera who Werner Simsohn got in contact with for his research. She managed to take the last boat from Poland to England before the outbreak of the war.
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Donated by Arnold Cohen