United States Holocaust Museum’s Oertelt Collection now supported with Key Historic Documents


Henry’s cousin Steffi Oertelt

Today is the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht or the “night of broken glass,” the day many consider to be the start of the Holocaust. The subjects of our short film, Becoming Henry, Holocaust Survivors Henry Oertelt (who died in 2012 at age ninety) and his brother, one hundred and one year old Maine resident, Kurt Messerschmidt, were eyewitnesses to those events in Berlin, Germany.

We wanted to commemorate this by sharing a fascinating development. Henry’s granddaughter, Corey Samuels recently received new information from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., where the family recently donated Henry’s artifacts for the new Henry Oertelt and Stephanie Oertelt Samuels collection. The museum has discovered several documents relating to Henry and his family and their journey during that period of time. Students and educators as well as history buffs may find this very valuable. It is additional irrefutable evidence that Henry and his family experienced everything he described in his book.

Also, Jo-Ellyn Decker, the U.S.H.M.M. expert was able to determine that Else Oertelt (Henry’s mother) died around approximately October 6, 1944. Now, the family can observe her yarzeit, the anniversary of her death.

Additionally Ms. Decker shared a copy of an actual letter sent from a young actress, Steffi Messerschmidt, who was Henry’s cousin. The letter was written to her father from the concentration camp, Gurs. Henry named his daughter Stephanie Oertelt Samuels after this cousin. Sadly Steffi Samuels died at age 61 in 2010 after a long courageous 30-year battle with brain cancer.

Ms. Decker wrote:

“I completed research related to information about your grandfather, Artur Karl-Heinz Oertelt. The attached records are from the International Tracing Service and other collections held at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. I’ve have included a brief summary of those records in the body this e-mail.

Please note that there are copies of postwar photos of Mr. Arthur Oertelt on files, 68481445, 68481446 and 68481447. I’ve collated the relevant records into sub-folders for you so that each set of relevant records may be better understood in terms of your grandfather’s path of persecution.

I have information related to an Else Oertelt (date of birth April 23, 1893) whom shared your grandfather’s address in the Minority Census. She was deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt on 30 June 1943 and then to Auschwitz on October 6, 1944. Given her age at the time of deportation it is unlikely she would have been integrated into forced labor in Auschwitz. The names of those individuals murdered upon arrival in Auschwitz were not recorded by the perpetrators. Her name appears in the Berlin Gedenkbuch, memorial book, as “verschollen,” missing presumed deceased. According to The Auschwitz Chronicle, 1500 men, women and children were deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz on October 6, 1944. Of those 1500 only 271 of “youngest and healthiest women” were sent for labor. The remaining individuals were taken to the gas chambers. If your family wanted to say yahrzeit and or light a candle on the “anniversary” of Else Oertelt’s death, the estimated closest date I can recommend is October 6.

· Mr. Arthur Oertelt was deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt on 30 June 1943. (Gestapo Transport List File #11194062).
· On 19 September 1944 Mr. Arthur Oertelt was deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz (File # 4958979).
· On 2 October 1944 Mr. Arthur Oertelt was deported from Auschwitz Birkenau to the sub-camp, Golleschau (File #504990).
· Mr. Oertelt’s name appears on a list noting the names and prisoner numbers of forced laborers in sub-camp Golleschau (File #505113). His name appears on line number 2185 of this list.
· File 560403 is a copy of the laboratory test results from the infirmary of Auschwitz dated 28 October 1944. This test was a throat culture taken from new arrivals in Golleschau. The lack of a notation beside Mr. Oertelt’s name indicates that his test result was most likely negative. File 560401 is a copy of the first page of this list. File 560408 is a copy of the same test result, typed. File 560407 is a copy of the first page of this list.
· Work books noting deployment of prisoners in Auschwitz detachment Golleschau (only prisoner numbers) File 529447 is dated October 1944, File 529500 is dated November 1944, File 529547 is dated December 1944, and File 529593 states that Mr. Oertelt was in Gollescahu until 18 January 1945.

· File 10962384 is a copy of an index on which an original “transfer slip” created under camp authorities noting that Arthur Oertelt was transferred from Sachsenhausen to Flossenbürg on 6 February 1945. These cards are also sometimes referred to as a combination card. The original “transfer slip” has Mr. Oertelt’s Flossenbürg prisoner number, 46820 as well as his previous Auschwitz prisoner number. The slip also provides his nationality, “R.D.” as German, religion as Jewish, his name, date of birth, place of birth, his occupation in the camp as a “Hilfsarbeiter,” or auxiliary worker, his marital status as single and a notation that he had not been assigned to a sub-camp in Flossenbürg at the time of this document’s creation and a notation that Mr. Oertelt had been in Auschwitz in October of 1944.

· File 10799868 is a copy of the original transport list created under camp authority in Flossenbürg noting arrivals to the camp from Sachsenhausen on 6 February 1945. Mr. Oertelt’s name appears on line number 1325.

· File 68481444 is a copy of Arthur Oertelt’s Allied Expeditionary Force Displaced Persons Registration Record, which provides basic biographical information related to Mr. Oertelt.
· File 68481445, File 68481446 and File 68481447 are copies of Mr. Arthur Oertelt’s Displaced Persons Identification cards. These cards display Mr. Oertelt’s name, date of birth, place of birth, nationality, employer as well as a photograph and finger prints.

The backs of these cards provide the path of persecution information about Mr. Oertelt.
· File 68481448 is a copy of a Displaced Persons card related to Mr. Oertelt which provides his name, nationality, date of birth, occupation, and residence.
· File 79541523 is a copy of Mr. Oertelt’s Application for Assistance created in the postwar period.
· File 81662754 is a copy of the ship manifest noting those individuals whom were aboard the USAT “General Ballou” which left Bremerhaven, Germany on 1 September 1949. Mr. Oertelt’s name is at the top of file 81662754. File 81662720 is a copy of the first page of this manifest.
· File 4478368 is a copy of a record of inquiry sent from a third party to the International Tracing Service requesting information related to Mr. Arthur Oertelt. This particular inquiry was submitted from the “EA Bln.”, the “Compensation Office, Berlin” on September 27, 1958.
· File 101660357_0_1 through file 101660362_0_1 are copies of Mr. Arthur Oertelt’s Tracing and Documentation File, “T/D File,” an ITS case file for tracing or other research concerning an individual. This T/D File contains copies of correspondence and research notes related to Mr. Oertelt’s request for certificate of incarceration.”

Steffi Oertelt Letter in German

Henry's cousin Steffi Oertelt's last letter

Henry’s cousin Steffi Oertelt’s last letter


For more information, contact us or visit the museum online at http://ushmm.org.

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