» Resources   » Archival Collections   » Irving Reifer Collection
Irving Reifer Papers (1945-1950)
ACC# 1998.024, 2000.024
EXTENT: 0.25 linear feet, 1 box

Biographical and Historical Note:
Irving Reifer was born in Poland in 1924. He survived nine concentration camps and a death march during the Holocaust. Unable to return to his home, he spent several years in three displaced persons (DP) camps (Leipheim, Lechfeld and Neu-Ulm). He eventually immigrated to the United States in 1950.

Of the 8 million Europeans who had been driven from their countries during World War II, 2 million were unable to be repatriated and were placed in DP camps that were administrated by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Among the displaced people were approximately 50,000 Jews who had been liberated from the concentration camps.

Leipheim, in the Munich District, opened in December 1945 and closed in June 1950.

Lechfeld, near Augsburg, opened in August 1947 at an airfield formerly belonging to the Messeeschmidt company. The camp closed March 31, 1950.

Neu-Ulm (Ludendorff-Kaserne, Ludendorff Barrack), in the Stuttgart District, opened in the summer of 1946 to relieve the overcrowding at Bad Aibling and the Munich Funkkaserne. The camp was evacuated in March 1951.

The Jews of the DP camps developed a culture of their own. More than 70 newspapers were published, and theaters and orchestras were established. People married and had children and waited to begin their lives outside of Europe. The need for DP camps dwindled with the establishment of the State of Israel. About two-thirds of the displaced people emigrated to Israel, while most of the rest moved to the United States. The last DP camp in Germany was closed in 1953.

Collection Overview: Scope and Content Note
The Irving Reifer Papers are housed in one archival box and are arranged in four series. Series have been designated for DP camp documents, emigration papers, photographs and miscellaneous.

The papers consist chiefly of certificates, medical records, licenses and other records depicting daily life in the DP camps at Leiphiem, Lechfeld and Neu-Ulm. Other items include tickets and newsletters from the U.S.S. Hersey, as well as a collection of 30 photographs. One of the photographs shows Reifer in a concentration camp uniform.

One miscellaneous item, a certificate of incarceration from the Flossenberg concentration camp, is included with the collection.

Series Descriptions:

  • Series 1: DP camp documents, 1945-1950
    These papers are housed in one archival box and are arranged chronologically. This series includes medical records, driver's licenses, correspondence and other documents relating to DP camp life.
    Folder 1: Leipheim camp documents, 1945-1948
    Folder 2: Lechfeld camp documents, 1948-1949
    Folder 3: Neu-Ulm camp documents, 1949-1950
  • Series 2: Emigration Papers (U.S.S. Hersey), 1950
    These papers are housed in one archival box and are arranged chronologically. The series includes meal tickets and baggage check tickets, as well as ship newsletters.
    Folder 4: Emigration (U.S.S. Hersey), 1950
  • Series 3: Photographs, 1945-
    The photographs are housed in one archival box. No specific arrangement at this time. The collection includes an image of Reifer in a concentration camp uniform, taken after liberation. Other images include a wedding at the Leipheim DP camp, rallies, soccer games and photographs taken aboard the U.S.S. Hersey.
    Folder 5: Photographs, 1945-
  • Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1949
    This series includes only one item - a certificate of incarceration from the Flossenberg concentration camp.
    Folder 6: Certificate from Flossenberg concentration camp, 1949
Provenance: These materials came in two accessions in 1998 and 2000 (Acc# 1998.024 and 2000.024) as a gift of Irving Reifer. Reifer collected these documents while living in DP camps in post-World War II Germany and while traveling to the United States via the U.S.S. Hersey.

Restrictions and Separations: None

Catalog Entries:

  • Subjects: Displaced persons - Germany; displaced persons camps - Germany; Leipheim (Germany); Lechfeld (Germany); Neu-Ulm (Germany)
  • Added Entries: Reifer, Irving
Processed by: Lisa Moellering

Date Completed: Nov. 18, 2002
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