Feast Prayers of the Israelites Hebrew and German prayer book owned by an Austrian Jewish refugee

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2017.480.2
  • 2018.258
1 Jan 1885 - 31 Dec 1885
Level of Description
  • German
  • Hebrew
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

overall: Height: 7.750 inches (19.685 cm) | Width: 5.500 inches (13.97 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)


Biographical History

Dr. Leopold Stoer (Leo, 1907-2005) was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, to Alfred (1879-1942?) and Karoline (1881-1942) Kohn Stoer. Karoline was born in Pottendorf, Austria, to Lazar (?-1925) and Rosalie Breis Kohn. Lazar was a teamster, hauling freight with horse-drawn wagon. Karoline had seven siblings. Alfred was born in Vienna, and had three siblings. Alfred was a master decorator by trade. In 1905, Alfred and Karoline married. Leo had seven younger siblings: Juli (1908-1942?,) Grete (?-1942,) Hedi, who died of whooping cough as a child, Friedrich (Fritz, 1915-1942,) Erna (1918-1942,) Gertrude (Trude, 1919-1942?,) and Otto (1922-1942.) Leo’s maternal grandparents and an uncle lived across the street. In August 1914, World War I began, and Leo’s father, Alfred, was selected for service in March 1915. Alfred fought on the Italian front, and also became known for his culinary skills. This allowed him to send crates of food back home for his family. These packages became especially important as the war progressed and food became scarce. Following the end of the war, the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell, and the aristocracy lost much of their wealth. Many of them were Alfred’s clients, and he had to downsize his business due to their losses. After completing his compulsory schooling, Leo earned a scholarship in order to attend the Handelsakademy, where he studied French and English. He graduated in 1925, and worked briefly as an English correspondent before switching to the Phoenix Insurance Company, where he checked policy computations. Leo’s boss suggested he take an insurance mathematics course at the university, so he could earn a higher salary and help support his parents. Alfred’s business was still slow, and Juli and Grete worked as dressmakers to bring in money. At the end of 1928, Leo passed the university qualifying exams and registered for the 1929 spring semester. He had to continue working, so he did not have time to study medicine as intended, instead opting to pursue psychology and biology. In August 1932, Leo moved out of the family home so that he could have more space to work on his dissertation. Leo’s sister, Grete, married Josef Blau (1914-1941.) In 1935, there was a growing movement to support the German state under Adolf Hitler. Austrians began advocating for the Nazi party, and an increase in anti-Jewish policies. The Jewish leaders of Leo’s insurance company were accused of mismanagement and removed, and the company was renamed. Even long-standing Jewish employees were dismissed. Leo’s new boss liked his work, and kept him on for an additional year for a special project. In March 1935, Leo submitted his dissertation and it was approved, However, he still needed to pass the qualifying exams. In late 1935 or early 1936, Leo’s friend Richard Krochmalnik introduced him to kindergarten teacher, Herta Schwarzbart (1908-2007.) Not long after the two began dating, Herta and Leo both lost their jobs. Herta found a new position, and moved in with her mother and sister. Leo worked as tutor and studied for his exams. He passed, and was promoted during a ceremony in November 1937. On March 13, 1938, Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss." The Germans quickly introduced anti-Jewish legislation. The annexation prompted Leo to apply for an immigration visa to the United States. There was no hope for employment, and life was getting very dangerous for Austrian Jews. Regardless of the conditions, Leo married Herta on March 27, 1938. Although the couple was newly married, they continued to live apart. Meanwhile, Herta also applied for a visa, and brought applications to both of their families as well. No one in his family could work, so Leo used some of his savings to try and help them. That summer, Leo secured his American visa and was able to obtain tickets for a ship from Cherbourg, France, with the help of a Jewish aid organization. Herta’s affidavit was not sufficient, and her application was set aside. Leo worried about leaving before he knew his family was safe, so he cashed in his government bonds and used the money to help them seek asylum in Belgium. Leo began his trip to the US, arriving in New York City on September 23, 1938. He secured affidavits so that Herta could join him, and eventually landed a job in a spool factory. His brother, Fritz, married Gertrude Weininger in Belgium. Later, his sister, Juli, wrote that their father had been arrested for entering Belgium illegally, and needed to prove he had money to be released. Leo sent them $50 to help. In February 1939, Herta arrived in New York. Both Herta and Leo had a difficult time adapting to life in New York. In late April 1939, they traveled by bus and moved to San Francisco, California. Initially, Leo worked as a consultant at a children’s psychological clinic, and Herta worked at a Jewish orphanage. Leo later analyzed new psychological hospital patients using the Rorschach ink blot test he had studied in Vienna. This brought in money, but there wasn’t enough reliable work in psychology. As a result, in late September 1939, Leo and Herta moved to Petaluma, California, where they secured a loan and began running a chicken farm. This seemed the fastest way to make money and prove to the American Consul in Antwerp, Belgium, that they could provide for their family members to immigrate, if permitted. Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940, obstructing Leopold’s remaining family members and Herta’s brother from leaving the nation. Following the invasion, German and Austrian refugees were treated as enemy aliens. In July 1941, all American consulates in German-occupied territory closed, cutting applicants off from the diplomats issuing visas. In August, Herta and Leo’s first child was born, and they were able to share the news with their families. Following Japan’s December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor, the US entered the war. This caused chicken prices to skyrocket, and in 1942, Leo and several Jewish chicken farmers in the area responded to demand by setting up a chicken cooperative, which Leo ran. Leo’s brother Otto was deported to Drancy transit camp in France, and his mother and several siblings were transported to Mechelen (Malines) transit camp in Belgium. In August 1942, several of Leo’s siblings were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland and murdered: Fritz and Erna on transport I from Mechelen, Grete and husband Josef on transport III from Mechelen, and Otto on transport 21, train 901-16 from Drancy. Leo’s mother, Karoline, was deported to Auschwitz on transport XI in late September and murdered. Leo’s father, Alfred, and sisters, Trude and Juli, were also in Belgium, and were likely deported and killed in 1942. Herta and Leo’s second child was born in July 1943. The war ended in May 1945, and the majority of Herta and Leo’s relatives still living in Europe had perished. Herta’s sister-in-law, Sidi, and nephew, Paul, had survived in hiding in Belgium, and joined Herta and Leo in California in 1948. In the late 1950s, Leo and Herta sold the chicken business and returned to their pre-war career paths. Leo returned to school, focused on clinical psychology, and interned at the Napa State Hospital before becoming a staff doctor there. Later, he opened his own practice and did some consulting. Herta attended college and studied French and German, which she later taught.

Archival History

The prayer book was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017 by Joyce Cordi, the daughter of Leopold and Herta Stoer.


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joyce Stoer Cordi

Scope and Content

Festgebete der Israeliten, a Jewish prayer book, likely brought to the United States by Dr. Leopold (Leo) Stoer when he emigrated from Vienna, Austria, in September 1938. The book belonged to his mother, Karoline Stoer (née Kohn), or one of his other female relatives, who would need it in the US if successfully able to immigrate there. Leo lived in Vienna with his parents, Alfred and Karoline, and seven younger siblings: Juli, Grete, Hedi, Fritz, Erna, Trude, and Otto. In 1915, Alfred, a master decorator by trade, was selected to fight in World War I (1914-1918). Leo’s sister, Hedi, died from whooping cough. After Leo graduated from school, he worked at an insurance company and took some university courses. He passed the university entrance exams in 1928 and began his PhD program the following year. In early 1936, Leo began dating Herta Schwarzbart. In November 1937, Leo was promoted after passing qualifying exams. On March 13, 1938, Austria was annexed into Germany. Later that month, Leo and Herta married, but continued to live separately in Vienna. Leo immigrated to the US in September 1938, after helping his family flee to Belgium. Herta followed him in February 1939. In September, the couple moved to California, where they began running a chicken farm to raise money to help their families immigrate. As World War II progressed, Herta and Leo lost contact with most family members. Leo later learned that his entire family had been deported to concentration camps and killed in 1942. All but two of Herta’s family members had been deported to concentration camps and killed by 1943.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access

Conditions Governing Reproduction

No restrictions on use

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Book; v. 6; ed. 9; 228 p; 19.5 cm. Jewish prayer book from a multi-volume set printed in Hebrew and German. The cardboard cover is bound with blue cloth, and both sides bear an elevated, rectangular border around a sunken-panel with a raised, central rectangle with an arched extension centered along each side. The front cover is decorated with stamped, gold-colored scrollwork and floral elements around and on the raised center, which also bears the title. A geometric pattern, the title, and the volume are stamped on the spine in gold-colored foil. The black ink text is printed on discolored tan paper, in Hebrew and German, with the text for the later in Fraktur font.



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.