Strauss family: personal papers and correspondence

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the papers of the Strauss family, German speaking Jews from Prague, most of whom managed to flee Nazi persecution. Shortly after the occupation of Czechoslovakia Julius Strauss obtained travel permits for his two younger children to emigrate to England. Julius Strauss himself fled to Paris but his wife, Elsa Strauss, decided to stay behind in Prague. She was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942, where she perished. Julius Strauss' eldest daughter and her husband were deported to Terezin and Auschwitz concentration camps but were liberated at the end of the war.

Included are Julius Strauss' diary (incomplete) in which he describes the emigration of his children and his failed attempt to go to Paris in April 1939 to find accommodation for himself and Elsa; wartime correspondence between the parents, their children and friends; papers relating to Julius Strauss and Vilem Lesny's compensation claim; photographs; family trees; as well as papers relating to the estate of family friend, Otakar Bondy, who died at Lodz concentration camp in 1944.

Administrative / Biographical History

Julius Strauss (1883-1949) and his second wife Elsa (1887-c1942, née Löwy) lived with their children Gertrude ('Trude') (1914-1983), Marta (1912-1990) and Harry (born 1920) in Prague. Trude got married to pharmacist Jiri (George) Rudolfer (1910-1967) in January 1938. Following the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Wehrmacht on 15 March 1938, Julius Strauss managed to acquire travel permits for his children to leave the country. On 26 March 1939 George, Trude and her step-brother Harry, who had not completed his education at the time, emigrated to England. They initially stayed at a house of one of George's friends near London but soon Harry moved to Derby to work at a factory.

In April 1939, Julius Strauss tried to go to Paris to find accommodation for himself and Elsa but was arrested and returned to Prague. Following this failed attempt to leave the country, Julius Strauss hired a guide to take him over the Tatra mountains to France where he survived the war. The guide returned to Prague to fetch Elsa but she was suspicious of him and refused to go with him. Elsa stayed behind in Prague until she was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp on 15 January 1942, where she perished.

Marta Strauss (1912-1990) and her husband Vilem Lesny (formerly Wilhelm Löwy, born 1902) were deported to Terezin concentration camp in August 1942. In October 1944 Vilem Lesny was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Both were liberated. Vilem Lesny's mother, Berta Löwy, was deported to Terezin in May 1942 and two days after her arrival transported to another camp in the East where she perished.

Arrangement

Chronological and by subject

Conditions Governing Access

Acquisition Information

Donated by Stephan Rudolfer

Note

2009/41, 2010/28

Archivist's Note

Photocopies