Resources in the Archives — Jewish Voices: Personal Accounts of the Holocaust

“I remember distinctly how it all began. The day when the gates of the Ghetto were closed and a watch was set at its entrances. It was 1939…and nobody realized that it [was] going to be an overture to what has been the most tragic opera ever played in the history of humanity.” – Irena Urdang de Tour

In her account of life in the Warsaw ghetto, Irena de Tour provides insight into the experience of Jews and other persecuted minorities during the Holocaust. The ghetto and the horrors suffered by its inhabitants would be repeated in other Jewish communities across Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. World War II allowed Hitler and Nazi officials to undertake the “Final Solution” to what they considered the “Jewish question.” Relying primarily on the use of extermination camps, Hitler’s “Final Solution” resulted in the murder of six million Jews (nearly two-thirds of European Jewry) by the end of the war in 1945. The destruction of entire Jewish communities meant that once liberation came, Holocaust survivors often had no homes to which they could return. As a result, displaced persons camps run by the Allied powers and the United Nations Refugee and Rehabilitation Administration took in more than 250,000 survivors. Many Jewish displaced persons left Europe for Israel, while others (including Irena and her family) immigrated to the United States.

Archives & Special Collections holds materials across multiple collections that tell the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of survivors. This includes records from the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Trials, which make up part of Senator Thomas J. Dodd’s papers. At the Nuremberg Trials, prosecutors collected evidence of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews and other groups perceived to be biologically or racially inferior. Additionally, the archives holds collections containing personal stories of Holocaust survivors, some of whom settled in Connecticut after the war. Recorded at different times, these individual narratives give a human face to the events of the war, and offer details concerning life for Eastern European Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust. Also available are publications from a variety of Jewish and human rights organizations, which include accounts of survivors. These collections help to keep the experiences and voices of those who lived through the Holocaust present in the minds of people today and in the future.

Irena Urdang de Tour Collection of Holocaust Materials: The materials in this collection include de Tour’s account of her life and escape from the Warsaw ghetto, as well as stories from other Holocaust survivors. The collection is also comprised of a variety of newsletters, publications, letters, and other documents from Holocaust survivor and support organizations in the United States. Additionally, the collection contains periodicals from American Jewish organizations. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/846.

University of Connecticut, Center for Oral History Interviews Collection: Under the subgroup, “Holocaust Survivors in the Connecticut Region, 1980-1981,” this collection contains twenty-six oral histories from Holocaust survivors living in Connecticut. Conducted by UConn’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, these oral histories include information about survivors’ lives before, during, and after the Holocaust. In some cases, the survivors discuss how they were able to maintain their faith while living through the horrors of the camps, including one memorable story from Isidore Greengrass about how he and his fellow prisoners celebrated Passover at Auschwitz. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/146101.

University of Connecticut Film Collection: This collection includes videos and films taken during conferences, presentations, and activities at the university. Two videos in particular contain stories from Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. These were recorded in October of 1995 at the “Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Human Rights and the Rule of Law” event, which was held to dedicate the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The first video, “Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Nobel Laureate Address by Elie Wiesel” (1995), is available at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860073877. The second, “Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Nuremberg and the Legacy of the Survivors” (1995) is available at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860073866.

Thomas J. Dodd Papers: this collection consists of materials pertaining to Dodd’s career as an attorney and Connecticut senator. Significantly, the collection contains records of Dodd’s work as a member of the team of U.S. prosecutors at the Nuremberg war crimes trial before the International Military Tribunal from 1945-1946. Included is a section on human rights, specifically from the case for crimes against humanity. This consists of trial briefs and translated documents used as evidence, including materials dating back to 1936 detailing anti-Semitic measures taken by the German government. Also part of this collection are transcripts of presentations Dodd gave before the court about the concentration camps. Some of his evidence came from affidavits taken right after US troops liberated certain camps (such as Flossenburg and Mauthausen), as well as translated letters from survivors recounting their experiences. Dodd’s papers also include excerpts from the “Israelitisches Wochenblatt,” a Jewish newspaper that recorded atrocities against the Jews during the war. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/771 and digitized documents and photographs are at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3AIMTNuremberg

Norman H Finkelstein Papers: An award-winning author of nonfiction for children and adults, Norman Finkelstein writes on the Holocaust, the Jewish-American experience, and other topics within Jewish history. This collection contains Finkelstein’s manuscripts, galleys, proofs, professional correspondence, as well as published and unpublished works. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/374.

Laurie S. Wiseberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet Collection: Founded with the purpose to educate people on human rights issues, the Human Rights Internet Collection holds thousands of publications from around the world on human rights related topics. The materials in this collection date from 1977 to the present, and contain materials not available in other North American libraries. Most of the publications consist of non-professional reports and studies, newsletters, and other documents collected from non-government organizations. Also included in the collection are books, journals, magazines, and newspapers acquired from human rights groups such as the Human Rights Watch, the International Council on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Anti-Slavery International. In particular, the collection holds publications concerning the Holocaust and information about Jewish survivors. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/110.

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center if you need resources on Jewish accounts of the Holocaust. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives. Additional information on the Holocaust can be found at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at https://www.ushmm.org/, and Yad Vashem: the World Holocaust Remembrance Center at https://www.yadvashem.org/.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

The Kid in Upper 4, a wartime advertising campaign of the New Haven Railroad

The first in The Kid in Upper 4 advertising campaign, reprinted in the December 1942 issue of the New Haven Railroad’s employee magazine Along the Line.

During World War II the New Haven Railroad, which provided passenger and freight service to southern New England including New York City and Boston, found that despite wartime stresses on the railroad company the riding public would consistently and constantly complain about poor service. The railroad suffered during the Great Depression but had a resurgence during the war, which began in December 1941. Its efforts to transport troops, munitions and other wartime supplies to the ports, which were then shipped to the various war fronts in Europe, North Africa and Asia, strained the railroad’s limited resources and resulted in fewer seats and trains available for the general riding public.

The railroad soon turned to its advertising agency, the Wendall P. Colton Company of Boston, to find a way to mollify the complaints and griping. The agency’s first efforts tried to educate the public about the important role played by the New Haven Railroad in the country’s efforts to win the war and defeat fascism. Two ads, “Right of Way for Fighting Might,” which ran in newspapers in New York City and New England in October 1942, and “Thunder Along the Line,” which ran in November 1942, were marginally effective and the complaints continued.

In late 1942 the advertising company gave control of the campaign to Nelson Metcalf, Jr., a 29-year-old Harvard graduate who was fairly new to the advertising profession. Metcalf decided that the best approach was to talk directly to the readers of the ad and play at their emotions. At that time the war touched virtually every citizen of the country, and almost every rider of the railroad had a father, husband, brother or son in the military. Metcalf’s approach played on the thoughts of one soldier, to which all could relate, going to the front on a troop train.

The ad included an image of a fresh-faced young man lying awake in a berth in a sleeping car, and the prose of the ad could not be more compelling. Here is the text in full:

It is 3:42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
This is no ordinary trip. It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war. Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.
One is wide awake … listening … staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4.
Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things – and big ones.
The taste of hamburgers and pop … the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway … a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
The pretty girl who writes so often … that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station … the mother who knit the socks he’ll wear soon.
Tonight he’s thinking them over.
There’s a lump in his throat. And maybe – a tear fills his eye.
It doesn’t matter, Kid. Nobody will see … it’s too dark.
A couple of thousand miles away, where he’s going, they don’t know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.
Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand enroute – it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you – it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner – it is so he … and thousands like him … may have a meal they won’t forget in the days to come.
For to treat him as our most honored guest is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude.

The ad ran first in the New York Herald Tribune, on November 22, 1942. It was immediately obvious that the ad struck a chord with not just the railroad’s ridership but across America. The railroad and the ad agency immediately started fielding calls and receiving letters with positive responses from the public, other businesses in the industry, and government offices. The ad was soon running in newspapers around the country, as well as Life, Newsweek and Time magazines.It was used to raise money for the Red Cross, to sell U.S. War Bonds, and by the U.S. Army to build morale among servicemen.

As noted by Charles Pinzon and Bruce Swain in their Journalism History article of Fall 2002 about the ad campaign, “by the end of January 1943 even competing railroads had hung full-color posters of the advertisement in their terminals. Within four months of its publication a radio station had dramatized the ad, [famous comedian and actor] Eddie Cantor had read the copy over the air on his hit radio show, a popular song had been written and MGM was in production on a film short.” By March 1943 55,000 reprints had been requested.

The New Haven Railroad was delighted by the ad’s success and ordered the ad agency and Metcalf to create similar “Kid” ads. Although the additional ads, for “The Kid in the Convoy,” “The Kid in the Ward Car,” and others, were similar in tone, none had as much of an impact as the original “Kid” ad. The agency and Metcalf received multiple journalism awards and the railroad was able to guilt the riding public into ceasing their complaints about bad service, at least for a while.

James Twitchell’s book 20 Ads That Shook the World, published in 2000, lists “The Kid in Upper 4” among the most successful campaigns in American history but notes that its success was based on the fact that unlike the typical advertisement it was not selling anything but was “drawing attention away from the client’s lousy product.”

The “Kid” ads shown above are those published in the New Haven Railroad’s employee magazine Along the Line, which can be found in our digital repository at
https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860565482

Resources in the Archives on D-Day and the Normandy Invasion

On June 6, 1944, the day now and forever known as D-Day, the Allied Forces of World War II stormed the beaches of Northern France in an effort to liberate France and Europe from four years of German occupation. Led mostly by the military forces of the United States, Britain, and Canada, D-Day’s Normandy landings were the turning point in the war that eventually led to the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

Archives & Special Collections has materials with references to D-Day and the Normandy Invasion although not as many as we had hoped. While we have several sets of letters by soldiers from Connecticut who served in World War II we found that many of those soldiers were either stationed on bases in the U.S. at the time or were fighting in other theaters. Those who might have been involved made little contemporary mention of the battles, a couple of them noting in their letters that they had been instructed by their superiors to specifically NOT write home about the invasion. We found that even the university records have scant contemporary mentions to the event, particularly in student publications, because  by the time of the invasion in June 1944 school was out of session for the summer.

Despite these disappointments there are some items in the collections, particularly these:

Andre Schenker was a Professor of History at UConn and a world affairs commentator for station  WTIC in  Hartford in the 1940s. His series of programs during the years of World War II made him one of the best-known commentators in the state. One of his most notable commentaries was of D-Day, and can be heard in our digital repository at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A859909662. Transcripts of this and his other broadcasts can be found in his papers.

Thomas J. Dodd served as Executive Trial Counsel at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, after the war, where Nazi leaders were put on trial to answer for their crimes against humanity. In his position on the United States prosecution team Dodd gathered evidence from German records to support the arguments. Dodd’s family donated these documents, all transcribed in English, and they are now one of our most used and strongest collections. Among the files is “Shooting of Allied Prisoners of War by 12 SS Panzer Division in Normandy, France, 7-21 June, 1944” which details the acts perpetrated by the Nazis immediately after D-Day. This document can be found in our digital repository at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A5466#page/1/mode/2up

The UConn Center for Oral History conducted interviews for the project “Voices from the Second World War.” One of the interviews is with Robert Conrad, who served in the Army Air Force beginning in 1942. Conrad was a mechanic who was sent overseas to England in the 356th fighter squadron and was crew chief on P47 and P51 fighter aircraft.  In his interview, conducted in March 2000, he tells of the preparations made to the airplanes in the lead-up to D-Day.

Also in the “Voices from the Second World War” project is an interview conducted in December 1999 of Franklin Johnson, who was in the 110th Artillery, where he discusses the preparations of his unit for the Normandy Invasion, particularly the secrecy and confusion surrounding it.

Other projects in the Center for Oral History project, which can be found in the digital repository, make mention of the Normandy Invasion, including interviews by Harold Burson (https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860389827#page/3/mode/1up), Benjamin Ferencz (https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860389823#page/17/mode/1up), and Manfred Isserman (https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860389820#page/2/mode/1up). Each of these men were interviewed for the “Witnesses to Nuremberg” project but noted their D-Day experiences in their interviews. Maurice Barbaret, interviewed for the “Connecticut Workers” project, also refers to Normandy at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860307439#page/9/mode/1up

The Southern New England Telephone Company produced an employee newsletter – The Telephone Bulletin – that extensively reported on SNET men and women who served overseas during World War II. Following the Normandy Invasion there were several notices in the publication about employees who participated or were killed in the invasion, or served in France.

Like SNET, the New Haven Railroad had an employee newsletter — Along the Line — where the activities of individuals were noted, particularly those who served during World War II. The August 1944 issue of the newsletter notes those railroad employees who were wounded or killed in the invasion.

James W. Wall was a Boston area photographer whose work focuses mainly on the locomotives and trains of Massachusetts, primarily in the 1930s when he was a teenager. The collection also has photographs taken by Wall when he served in the Army during World War II. Little is known about Wall but that which we do know is gathered from the photographs he took. The collection includes several images taken in France, particularly in Cretteville and Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, in July and August 1944, showing local scenes, other servicemen, and fighter planes.

Frances Perkins and the E. Ingraham Company

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. The letters are from the E. Ingraham Company Records.

In late October 1944, famed U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins wrote to the E. Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut. In her letter, she gave the company permission to employ girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen for nine hours a day. Under an earlier federal regulation, young girls could only work for eight hours a day.

But as Perkins’s acknowledged, times had changed: a labor shortage in Bristol and the essential work of the E. Ingraham Company to the war effort meant rules would have to be bent – if only temporarily.

Founded in 1831, the E. Ingraham Company had by the 1940s become one of the most successful clock and watch makers in the United States. The company’s successful manufacturing operations, though, would soon serve a different purpose. In 1942, the War Production Board drafted the company into the U.S. military effort against the Axis powers.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, industries throughout the United States shifted from producing for the consumer market to providing essential material for the war effort. The E. Ingraham Company went from crafting fine clocks and its popular “dollar watches” to cranking out mechanical time fuzes for the Army and Navy.

Local women had long labored in the E. Ingraham Company’s Bristol factories. But World War II drew even more of them into the workplace. The relentless demand for munitions pushed company president Edward Ingraham to ask the federal government for a loosening of labor restrictions.

Appointed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, Frances Perkins was the first woman to hold a cabinet-level position and has so far been the longest-serving Secretary of Labor. She devoted much of her life to defending the rights of women and children in the workplace. Moreover, setting limits on working hours had been one of her chief aims upon accepting her position. Perkins’s approval of an extra hour of work for young women employed by the E. Ingraham Company thus illustrates the demands placed on daily life during war time.

In June 1945, with the war in Europe over and the need for munitions in decline, Perkins rescinded her prior authorization. Young women could no longer work more than eight hours, and the E. Ingraham Company returned to fashioning the clocks, watches, and other products that had made them a household name in the years before the war.

 

Breaking news — 74th anniversary of the “day which will live in infamy”

Andre Schenker, 1930

Andre Schenker, 1930

About 1935, Andre Schenker, Associate Professor of History at UConn, began a regular broadcast series entitled “History in the Headlines” airing on WTIC.  The series provided context and analysis of current events for the listening audience. In a reminiscence, Dr. Schenker’s son remembers attending a performance in Hartford on the evening of December 7, 1941, when an usher came to quietly speak with his father. Immediately leaving the performance, Dr. Schenker went on the air later to share the breaking news. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States had declared war.

This and other broadcasts are available in the Schenker Papers held by Archives & Special Collections and online.

 

Veteran’s Day, UConn style

Veteran's barracks, 1946

More than 2000 UConn alumni served in World War II; 114 of them lost their lives in the conflict. After the war the Veteran’s Administration requested that the university accept between 3000 and 4000 returning soldiers as students. In 1946 the campus had 792 veterans enrolled as students (11 of them were women) with another 300 at the Hartford and Waterbury extension campuses and 154 are enrolled in the Law, Insurance and Pharmacy schools. Eleven temporary barracks, nicknamed “Siberia” because of their distance from the main campus, were built on “the site of the former agronomy plots bordering the main road to Willimantic.” This site is now the Fine Arts Complex and E.O. Smith High School.  As more veterans were accepted to UConn more housing was built or found in nearby Willimantic.

More information about the expansion of the campus for returning World War II veterans can be found in the UConn Chronology at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/collections/chronology/index.cfm and photographs of scenes such as the one above, of “Agronomy Field” can be found on the Digital Repository.

A New Collection — the Somersville Manufacturing Company Records

The Somersville Manufacturing Company, maker of fine heavy woolen cloth, was established in 1879 in Somersville, a village in the town of Somers, Connecticut, by Rockwell Keeney. For the company’s entire 90 year history it was owned and run by Rockwell’s descendents.

Advertisement for woollens made by the Somersville Manufacturing Company in Somersville, Connecticut, ca. 1950s

Advertisement for woollens made by the Somersville Manufacturing Company in Somersville, Connecticut, ca. 1950s

Last year Mr. Timothy R.E. Keeney, Rockwell’s great great-grandson, contacted Archives & Special Collections to discuss the donation of the company’s records, which were stored in his home in Somersville.  We found the records to be unique, accounting for the entire history of the company from its founding in 1979 to the point where it shut its doors in 1969.  The documents themselves were a treasure trove, ranging from administrative and financial files and volumes to marketing material, photographs and scrapbooks, detailing not only the life cycle of the company but also the Keeney family.  Mr. Keeney graciously gave us plenty of details about his family’s extensive and affectionate family; one fascinating aspect of the collection includes hundreds of letters written in the late 1930s and World War II years by his grandfather Leland Keeney to various members of the family.

The records are now open for research and the finding aid is available here: http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/somersville/MSS20130030.html.  We welcome all interested researchers to explore the legacy of this important Connecticut business.

E. Ingraham Company and war work, part 2 — a source for classroom instruction

The blog post on November 14 showed a photograph and document from the E. Ingraham Company Records.  Here are two more documents and some more questions.

Telegram from the War Department, Hartford Ordinance District, to E. Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut, December 13, 1944

Letter from E. Ingraham Company president to employees, December 15, 1944

What work is the company doing that is so important to the war effort? How has the E. Ingraham Company responded to the command from the government to step up production?  Do you think Edward and Dudley Ingraham were fair to not allow Christmas parties at the company during work time?

These primary sources conform to the Connecticut Social Studies Curriculum Framework for High School students, particularly Strand 1.2 — significant events in local and Connecticut history and their connections to United States history, grade level expectation 15 – describe how major events in U.S. history affected Connecticut citizens.

More information about the E. Ingraham Company can be found with the finding aid to the records at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/findaids/Ingraham/MSS19800034.html

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Child labor laws and war work — a source for classroom instruction

Army/Navy E award presented to the E. Ingraham Company, June 16, 1944

The E. Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut, was a maker of clocks and watches from its founding in 1831 by Elias Ingraham, to its demise in 1967.  It was run by descendents of Elias Ingraham for all but the last 15 years of its existence.

Letter to E. Ingraham Company from the U.S. Department of Labor, 1944

Use this photograph and the letter to create a narrative of what was happening at the E. Ingraham Company, and in the United States, at the time.  Some questions to ask include:

What was happening in the country in 1944?  What conditions would have necessitated the need for hiring girls at the company?  What kind of work were the workers doing that was so important to the government? 

More information and some more documents will come in a couple of days.  For now, use the documents, and your own knowledge of the circumstances of the time, to describe what is happening.  Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections