Shadur family papers

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 1997.A.0316.1
  • 1997.A.0316
  • 2005.379.1
1 Jan 1913 - 31 Dec 1997
Level of Description
  • English
  • Russian
  • French
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Latvian
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium


oversize folders




Biographical History

Michel Shadur was born in 1897 in Livani, Latvia. He had an older brother, Isaac, who died in Crimea in 1916, and two younger sisters, Gitta and Sonja. Michel attended school at the University of Latvia, in Riga, where he would meet and marry Manya Hasenson. The couple married in 1927 and moved to Berlin where Michel operated an international wholesale fruit business with his brother-in-law, Josef Hasenson. Michel and Manya had two children, Joseph and Benita, born in 1928 and 1932 respectively. They were not a particularly religious family, and only attended synagogue on the Jewish high holidays. As anti-Semitism spread in Germany, boycotts and restrictions began to undermine Michel’s ability to do business. While travelling for work in Belgium, Michel made the decision not to return. He obtained visas for his family and re-established his fruit business in Antwerp, Belgium. Michel’s sister, Gitta, lived in Italy at this time, where she met and made friends with members of the Fascist Party. She would later leave Italy to return to Berlin before leaving for the United States in 1939. Following Kristallnacht, Michel’s sister Sonja and her husband Bernard, along with their daughter Janet came to live in Belgium as well, before leaving for the United States in March, 1940. By May, Germany occupied Belgium and the Shadur family was forced to leave. The family packed their 1938 Oldsmobile Sedan and drove through France. On the way, the family encountered British troops, when Michel told a soldier he had no plans on where to go, and was advised to go south towards Bordeaux. Michel found a place to stay in a village just outside Bordeaux called Bruges. While there, the family finally received their US visas. They drove south towards Portugal, and after spending two months in Lisbon, they sailed on the SS Exeter on February 21, 1941. The Shadur family settled near Michel’s sister Gitta near St. Paul, MN, and Michel changed his name to Michael. After the war, Michel joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He was sent to Germany and served as a supply officer for the Württemberg district, and later as the director of the Jewish displaced persons camp in Backnang.

Archival History

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joseph Shadur

The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum through two separate donations made in 1997 and 2005 by Joseph Shadur. These two donations were given separate accession numbers (1997.A.0316 and 2005.379.1). The papers were unified using the first baseline number, 1997.A.0316. To reflect its relation to the collection, all of the Shadur family papers can be accessed through 1997.A.0316.1.

Scope and Content

The Shadur family papers document the experiences of Michael Shadur and his family, including their relocation to Belgium after antisemitic boycotts began to undermine his family business in Berlin, and following the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, their subsequent escape through France, Spain, and Portugal before immigrating to the United States. The contents of the papers contain various documents of Michael and Manya Shadur, their children Joseph and Benita, and their extended family. These include travel documents, identification materials, school notebooks and report cards, and other various material. Also included are photographs, records concerning Michael’s time serving with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and publications such as newspapers and road maps used by the family as they drove to Portugal. The Shadur family papers primarily contain documents kept by Michel and Manya Shadur, and their children Joseph and Benita, during their time in Belgium and France. Included in Michel and Manya’s records are identification materials, such as passports and travel permits, birth and marriage certificates, and automobile registration. Other items include correspondence with family members, diplomas, and Michel’s editorialized account of his journey written by a reporter soon after arriving in the United States, entitled The Story of my Flight for Refuge. The records pertaining to Joseph and Benita Shadur are mainly school related, such as notebooks and report cards. There are also booklets that contain sketches made by Joseph. The documents pertaining to extended family include various material related to Michel’s sister Sonja and her family, and Manya’s brother-in-law Jacob Chankin. The bulk of material relates to Michel’s other sister Gitta, and contain personal papers, passports, and correspondence from her time in Italy and while she lived in the United States. The United National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) series relates to Michel’s work with the UNRRA, and includes correspondence, letters of recommendation, re-assignment orders, and various other material. The photographs are of the Shadur’s and extended family, and are from their time from Riga, Germany, Belgium, France, and the United States, as well as Michel’s work with the UNRRA. The publications series contains a souvenir book from Bruges, France, road maps the family used as they traveled to Lisbon, newspaper clippings, and Joseph Shadur’s memoir, A Drive to Survival.

System of Arrangement

The Shadur family papers are arranged into six series: •Series 1: Michael and Manya Shadur, 1913-1941 •Series 2: Joseph and Benita Shadur, 1938-1942 •Series 3: Extended family, 1915-1979 •Series 4: United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, 1945-1948 •Series 5: Photographs, 1920-1979 •Series 6: Publications, 1939-1997


Corporate Bodies



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.