Elisabeth Thalheim. Collection

Bijkomende meta info

This collection contains digitised copies of 7 postcards and a letter sent by Elisabeth Thalheim to her mother Karola Kohn and her daughter Nelly Klein via Elisabeth’s Belgian, non-Jewish friend Lina Govaerts, while interned at the Dossin barracks from February until April 1943 ; a digital copy of an essay in English, written by Elisabeth Thalheim while taking an English course in preparation of her migration to China.
Nelly Klein-Sturm recounts her resistance activities : COLLIN Claude, "Nelly Sturm : ce qu'on appelait le 'travail allemand' ", in Guerres Mondiales et Conflits Contemporains, 2003/4 (n° 212).
Elisabeth Thalheim
German, English
Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin, except for KD_00072_A000756 and KD_00072_A000757 (Information available on item level).
Nelly Klein-Sturm and daughter Eva Sturm, Private collection, Berlin
19 digitised images (7 postcards, 1 letter, 1 essay and 1 death certificate)
Elisabeth Thalheim was born in Vienna, Austria, on 29 May 1901. On 6 January 1924, she married the Hungarian glazier Koloman or Kalman Klein, born in Kisnána, Hungary, on 28 September 1891. Kalman had been a soldier and had survived World War I as a prisoner of war in a Russian internment camp. The couple started a small hardware shop in Ottakring, Vienna, Austria, and led a non-religious, but traditional life. After the Anschluss, the family hardware store was mobbed and Austrian Nazis forced the Klein family out of their home and shop. Kalman and Elisabeth fled from Austria to Belgium in August 1939. They settled in Anderlecht, Brussels, where Elisabeth’s mother, Karoline or Karola Kohn, had arrived in June that year. Nelly Klein (b. 03/12/1924, Vienna, Austria), daughter of Kalman and Elisabeth, joined her parents and grandmother in Belgium in September 1939.
In May 1940, when Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium, Kalman Klein was arrested by the Belgian state and deported to the south of France as a “suspect foreigner whom had recently migrated from Nazi-Germany”. On 17 August 1942, Kalman Klein was deported from the Drancy transit camp in France to Auschwitz-Birkenau via transport 20. He did not survive.
Elisabeth Thalheim, her mother Karola Kohn and her daughter Nelly Klein remained in Belgium. As of 1941, Nelly became more and more involved in communist youth movements. After the invasion of the Soviet Union, she engaged in actions to demoralise and infiltrate the German army, an operation now known as the so-called “Travail allemand”.
Elisabeth Thalheim was arrested during a raid in Brussels on 13 February 1943, and was taken to the Dossin barracks in Mechelen. During her interment at the camp, she wrote several postcards to her friend Lina Govaerts, whom owned a small café at Rue du Clinique in Brussels. Lina remained in contact with Karola Kohn and Nelly Klein and passed on the cards which Elisabeth sent to Lina’s café in March and April 1943. Elisabeth Thalheim was deported from the Dossin barracks via Transport XX to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 20 April 1943. Upon arrival, she and dozens of other women were selected as “forced labourers” and taken to Block 10 where they subjected to medical experiments. In July 1943, Elisabeth was sent from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Natzweiler-Struthof where she was murdered by German collaborators of Ahnenerbe, whom collected human specimens for the anatomy collection of professor August Hirt at the university of Strasburg.
Both Karola Kohn and Nelly Klein survived the war in hiding in Brussels. While Karola returned to Vienna, Nelly moved to Berlin. Karola Kohn passed away in Vienna on 7 December 1975. Nelly married a Mister Sturm and had a daughter and grandsons. She still lives in Berlin.
In 1996 Nelly Klein-Sturm, daughter of Kalman Klein and Elisabeth Thalheim, donated items KD_00072_A000756 (original) and KD_00072_A000757 (photocopy) to the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, now Kazerne Dossin. Digital copies of the other postcards, the essay and the letter were delivered by e-mail in 2013.
Nelly Klein-Sturm, 1996 and 2013

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