Morris Berk papers

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2012.456.1
Level of Description
  • German
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium




Biographical History

Moritz Berk was born on April 9, 1891, in Schwanfeld, Germany, to Jewish parents, Adolf and Sophie (Sofie) Maier Berk. Adolf was born in approximately 1855 in Schwanfeld where his family had lived for generations. Sophie was born on March 7, 1863, in Sickershausen. Moritz had three siblings: Lina, born August 18, 1888; Paula, born July 17, 1894; and Heinrich, born November 3, 1895. Adolf died on February 27, 1915. Moritz served in the German Army in World War I. After the war, he became a merchant. He married Berta Lonnerstaedter. Berta was born on April 9, 1901, in Schwanfeld, to Julius and Jette Stern Lonnerstaedter. Jette was born on February 16, 1870, in Mechenried, Germany. Berta had three brothers: Siegfried, born in 1899, Paul, born in 1900, and Max, born in 1904.The Lonnerstaedter family lived in Mellrichstadt. Max immigrated to the United States in 1928. Moritz and Berta lived in Schwanfeld and had a daughter, Fraenze, in 1930. In June 1932, Moritz was expelled from the Frontkrieger-Verein (Front Warriors Association) because of the anti-Jewish policies of the Nazi party and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party. In January 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany and by summer had established a dictatorship in Germany. Anti-Jewish legislation was enacted almost immediately. In 1936, Siegfried and his wife and children immigrated to New York. In 1937, Paul, a math teacher, immigrated to New York, but felt he could not abandon his students so he returned to Germany. Heinrich Berk also immigrated to the United States in 1937. On August 17, 1938, Moritz, Berta, Franeze and Jette were issued their visas. On November 2, they boarded the SS Washington in Hamburg, arriving in New York on November 10. The family settled in New York and Americanized their names to Morris, Bertha, and Francise Berk and Yette Lonnerstaedter. Morris worked as a machinist. Morris corresponded with family members left in Germany, seeking assistance in getting affidavits. Their other immediate family members were not able to leave Germany. On May 19, 1942, Morris’s mother Sophie died in Frankfurt. On October 26, 1942, Berta’s brother Paul was deported to Riga, Latvia. He perished in the Holocaust. On June 16, 1943, Berta’s cousin Karl was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto, then sent, on October, 16, 1944, to Auschwitz Birkenau, where he was killed. Morris’s sisters, Lina and Paula, perished in the Holocaust. Morris, age 71, died in January 1963. Bertha, age 82, died in May 1983.


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Susan Friedland-Cristina

Funding Note: The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Susan Friedland-Cristina donated the Morris Berk papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012.

Scope and Content

The Morris Berk papers consists of photographs and correspondence related to the Berk family of Schwanfeld, Germany. The photographs consist of mostly pre-war photographs and portraits, including a photograph of soldiers, 1916. The correspondence includes letters to Moritz Berk and family, 1933-1939, including letter to Berk from 1933 announcing his explusion from a World War I veterans association.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Copyright Holder: Friedland-Cristina, Ms. Susan



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.