Perseverance, Liberation, and Triumph, 1945–1952
On May 8, 1945, Russian forces liberated the Theresienstadt camp survivors.
Camilla returned to Vienna on July 7, 1945. Documents in the purse trace Lony and Camilla’s frantic efforts to locate one another through the Red Cross, the U.S. military, and the Council of Jewish Communities in Bohemia and Moravia. U.S. Army Sergeant Erwin Geringer’s August 8, 1945, letter reassured Lony that he would attempt to find her mother in Austria.
Camilla in Vienna and Lony in New York assaulted the “paper wall” of U.S. immigration policy to bring Camilla to America. Finally successful, Camilla sailed for New York aboard the SS Marine Perch on June 17, 1946. In the following years many others came, and by 1952 more than 137,000 Jewish refugees found a new life in the United States.
Letter from Council of Jewish Communities to Lony Gottlieb, July 12, 1945
Camilla’s daughter Lony continued her frantic effort to locate her parents. This response from the Council of Jewish Communities in Bohemia and Moravia informed her there was no trace of her parents in their records.
Western Union telegraph, June 1945
Russians liberated Theresienstadt in May 1945. On June 28, Camilla sent a Western Union telegram from Theresienstadt to her daughter Lony in New York.
Letter from Sergeant Erwin Geringer to Lony Gottlieb, August 8, 1945
Communication in the aftermath of the war was trying, and mail service slow. Displaced persons such as Camilla were difficult to locate. Lony requested help from U.S. Army personnel to find her mother in Vienna.
Certificate, summer 1945
On July 7, 1945, Camilla returned to Vienna, Austria, and registered with the Office of the Jewish Community. She joined thousands of displaced persons desperately seeking any surviving family or friends. Before the war around 200,000 Jews lived in Vienna. When Camilla returned home there were about 8,000.
Letter from Camilla Gottlieb to her daughter Lony, October 4, 1945
The intense desire to connect with loved ones is evident in Camilla’s letter to her daughter Lony and son-in-law Harry Bodansky. Her words hinted at what she had endured and shared the sad news of Hermann’s death.
Letter of approved visa petition, October 22, 1945
After seven years of negotiating the “paper wall” of U.S. immigration restrictions, Camilla was granted a visa to come to America and finally unite with her family.
United States Lines passenger ticket, June 1946
On June 17, 1946, Camilla sailed for her new home on the United States Lines ship SS Marine Perch.
Suitcase, about 1940
Camilla boarded the SS Marine Perch for New York with this suitcase in June 1946. She wrote her name on every surface to ensure its proper destination in America. The suitcase’s hang tag noted the United States Lines, a transatlantic shipping company, and her daughter Lony’s New York City address.