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Inventory of the Harry Blas and Erika Stockfleth Blas Papers, circa 1910-circa 1980

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: The collection consists mainly of copy negatives, slides, and digital images of pre-World War II photographs of the families of Harry Blas, born in Łódź, Poland, and Erika Stockfleth Blas, born in Grevesmühlen, Germany. Also included is a short memoir by Harry Blas detailing his experiences in the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp, and a handwritten genealogy of the Stockfleth family by Erika Blas.
Title: Harry Blas and Erika Stockfleth Blas papers
Creator: Blas, Harry, 1924-2003;
Blas, Erika
Date(s): circa 1910-circa 1980    
Extent: 0.1 linear feet
(2 folders)
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
URL: http://archives.library.cofc.edu
Call Number: Mss 1065-029
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical Note

Harry Blas (1924-2003), né Herszl Blass, was born in Łódź, Poland, to Sarah and Peretz Blass. In 1939, after the German occupation of Łódź, Blas and his family, including his parents, siblings, and young nephews, were ordered to move to the Jewish ghetto. In August 1944, the family was sent to Auschwitz. From there, Harry Blas was sent to Austria to work in an ammunition factory, where he stayed until the American army liberated his camp. Only one other member of Blas's family survived, his brother, who had volunteered to work in a German labor camp while in the Łódź ghetto.

Erika Stockfleth was born in Grevesmühlen, Germany, to Marie-Gertrude Botta-Stockfleth and William Stockfleth. Her mother, who was Jewish, had been raised by a great-aunt after her parents died in a train wreck. In 1941, her father, a Protestant, helped a Jewish family escape Nazi Germany by taking the family to Hamburg and helping them buy tickets for travel to Uruguay. Upon his return to Grevesmühlen, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to fight on the Russian front. His family never saw him again, and believed that he may have perished in a Russian labor camp.

Afraid that their Jewish identity would be discovered, Marie-Gertrude Botta-Stockfleth hid Erika and her younger sister, Heidi, with a gentile girlfriend. Marie-Gertrude told Erika that she was Jewish shortly before going into hiding, but she did not tell Heidi, instead saying that she was sick as an excuse for the girls being sent away. Shortly before the war ended, a farmer took the sisters home and they arrived a few days ahead of American troops. In February 1946, Marie-Gertrude Botta-Stockfleth died of pneumonia. Her daughters could not find a rabbi in Grevesmühlen and the Jewish cemetery had been demolished, so their mother was eulogized by a Protestant minister and buried in a Christian graveyard.

Erika Stockfleth met Harry Blas while he was hospitalized in Germany. Stockfleth had come to the hospital to visit a school friend, and Blas was in the next bed. After Blas was released, he introduced Stockfleth to his brother and sister-in-law, who were living in Grevesmühlen with other Jewish displaced persons from Łódź. This group, including Blas and Stockfleth, decided to cross the border into the western section of Germany controlled by the British and Americans; Erika's sister had already crossed the border and joined her in Hamburg. Stockfleth and Blas married in 1951, then moved to New York a year later. In 1966, the couple relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, with their five-year-old daughter, Susan. Harry Blas's first cousin, Guta Blas Weintraub, had already settled in Charleston with her family.


Collection Overview

The collection consists mainly of copy negatives, slides, and digital images of pre-World War II images of the families of Harry Blas, born in Łódź, Poland, and Erika Stockfleth Blas, born in Grevesmühlen, Germany. Post-war images show their 1951 wedding in Hamburg, Germany, and their daughter, Susan. Also included is a short memoir by Harry Blas detailing his experiences in the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp, and a handwritten genealogy of the Stockfleth family by Erika Blas.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.


Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.

    Names

    • Blas, Harry, 1924-2003
    • Blas, Erika
    • Auschwitz (Concentration camp)

    Subjects

    • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
    • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives
    • Holocaust survivors--Poland
    • Jewish ghettos--Poland--History
    • World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities
    • World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Germany

    Places

    • Grevesmühlen (Germany)
    • Łódź (Poland)

    Types of Material

    • Black-and-white negatives
    • Black-and-white slides
    • Color slides
    • Digital images
    • DVDs
    • Genealogies
    • Memoirs
    • Photo CDs

    Inventory



    Images, circa 1910-circa 1980, undated   folder 1

    Copies (slides, negatives, and contact prints) of pre-war images of the Blas family include Israel and Liba Blass, grandparents of Harry Blas; Peretz and Sara Blass, his parents; and Freida, Malka, and Josef Blass, his siblings. Pre-war images of the Stockfleth family include Erika; her great-grandmother, unnamed; her grandmother, Dorothea Gedon Stockfleth; her parents, William and Marie-Gertrude Botta Stockfleth; and her sister, Edelheit "Heidi." Post-war images show Harry and Erika Blas at their 1951 wedding and with their daughter, Susan. Digital images on CD and DVD are included.



    Miscellaneous, undated   folder 2

    Included is a copy of a four-page memoir from Harry Blas in which he describes his experiences in the Łódź ghetto, Auschwitz concentration camp, and the search for his family after the war. Also included is a brief handwritten genealogy from Erika Blas.


    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Harry Blas and Erika Stockfleth Blas papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were lent for copying in 2000 by Harry Blas and Erika Stockfleth Blas.

    Alternate Form of Materials

    Digital reproduction available online in the Lowcountry Digital Library.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Rebecca McClure, January 2012.

    Encoded by Rebecca McClure, April 2012.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Martha McTear, July 2012.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

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