Gerda Sainer Collection

Scope and Content

The Sainer Papers are an accumulation of family papers from Gerda Sainer's mother and her uncle Eric Federmann in the US. The collection includes documents on family history which were created and collected by Gerda's father Paul and uncle Erich (later Eric) for the Federmann side and her mother (Eve, later Liebert) for the Kroner side. The oldest documents in the collection date from the early 1800s and confirm the official adoption of the surnames Federmann and Kroner.

The collection also includes wartime correspondence, from Paul Federmann in Berlin and his brother Eric in the US and it covers the 1933 to the late 1940s. Eric Federmann's orrespondence with his wife to be (Alice) is also included in the collection. Some correspondence, such as Gerda Sainer's letters to her parents in 1933 -1934 is only available as photocopies.

Gerda Sainer's mother Eve Liebert and aunt Alice Kitzinger also contributed to the collection with their diaries, correspondence and official family history documents, such as birth, death and marriage certificates as well as their school reports.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born 14 October 1914 in Berlin as Gerda Federmann, daughter of Eve nee Kroner and Paul Federmann. Gerda's parents divorced in 1926 and her mother re-married Max Liebert later that year. Gerda's father, Paul Federmann moved to Mannheim after the divorce but remained in close contact with his daughter in Berlin.

Gerda finished school in early 1933 and intended to study dentistry but as antisemitism in Germany grew her mother sent her to Pitman's College in London for a typing course and to improve her English. One year, in 1934 later Gerda's mother Eve also emigrated to London.

Once Gerda had completed her courses at Pitman's, Gerda studied massage, medical gymnastics and a number of different therapy approaches at the Westmister Hospital School of Massage and became an established physiotherapist. In July 1936 on holiday in Belgium Gerda met Haydn Watkins and they married 6 months later. The marriage was unsuccessful; Haydn suffered from tuberculosis and they separated soon after their wedding.

In late 1937 Gerda met Henry Sainer at a Jewish graduates club and after Haydn Watkins granted Gerda a divorce she married Henry Sainer in 1946. In 1948 they had their first son, and in 1953 a second son who suffered from autism. Gerda Sainer died in London.

Access Information

Items in the collection may be consulted for the purpose of private study and personal research, within the controlled environment and restrictions of The Keep's Reading Rooms.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available on The Keep's website .

Archivist's Note

Description created by Samira Teuteberg 2016.

Conditions Governing Use

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, digital copies can be made.

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.

Custodial History

Initially Gerda Sainer inherited a large part of the collection from her mother, Eve Liebert, who had in turn had received a smaller proportion from her sister Alice Kitzinger. A number of photoalbums and some correspondence came after the death of Eric Federmann in New York. The collection was maintained by Gerda Sainer. After her death the collection was donated to the University of Sussex by her son in 2012.