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Gusti Kollman papers

 Collection
Identifier: IWA1030

Scope and Contents

The Gusti Kollman papers date from 1910 to 2007 and measure 4.5 linear feet in 13 boxes. The papers are arranged in four series: Binstock and Kollman families, Correspondence, Photographs, and Artifacts. This collection documents the life of an Austrian Jewish family from Vienna during the Nazi occupation and the family's subsequent immigration to the United States in 1939. The bulk of the collection is correspondence between Gusti and Erich Kollman and their extended family, in particular Erich Kollman’s sister Käthe Kollman.

The Binstock and Kollman families series (1935 - 2007) contains information about several members of the Kollman and Binstock families. The Gusti Kollman biographical folder includes oral history interviews with Kollman recorded by her daughter Miriam Kollman in 2007, in which she spoke at length about her life in Vienna during the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938 and 1939, as well as the process of immigration to the United States and assimilating to life in Iowa.

The Kollman family folders include newspaper clippings and autobiographical writings in English by Erich Kollman’s sister Käthe Kollman and a newspaper clipping, business cards, and a funeral pamphlet of Erich Kollman’s parents Else and Karl Kollman. This section of the series also contains a newspaper clipping and photograph of Lisl (Millet) Klein, a close friend of Käthe Kollman and Else Kollman.

The Binstock family folders contain several newspaper clippings in English that tell of Fritz Binstock, Gusti Kollman’s brother, who was imprisoned in Buchenwald and then fought with the British-Palestine Army during World War II. Also included are a funeral announcement for Gusti Kollman’s mother Klara Binstock, immigration documents of Gusti Kollman’s sister Erna Binstock, and materials concerning Gusti Kollman’s sister and brother-in-law Grete and Leon Ritterman, who migrated to Italy soon after the Nazi occupation of Austria.

Erich Kollman’s files—some in English, some in German—appear to date primarily from after the family’s immigration to the United States and include datebooks and planners, academic manuscripts, publications, and poems he wrote. Also included are resumes of other Viennese refugees and a blank Affidavit of Support form for immigrants to the United States. A sesquicentennial history of Cornell College by C. William Heywood contains information about Erich Kollman, the College’s first Jewish faculty member. Two recipe books from the 1930s, one in English and one in German, complete the series.

The Correspondence series (1910 – 1980) is primarily in German. The bulk of the series is letters and postcards between Gusti Kollman, Erich Kollman, and Käthe Kollman and members of the Kollman and Binstock families, as well as correspondence with friends, students and colleagues. Among the topics discussed in the correspondence of the 1930s to 1950s are daily life, Vienna during the Nazi occupation, World War II, and the family’s immigration to the United States in 1939. [need some detail or examples here]. Correspondence of the 1960s and 1970s concerns family matters, Erich Kollman’s professional life, and the family’s travel to Europe and within the United States. There is a small amount of correspondence from Gusti Kollman’s brother Fritz Binstock.

The Photographs series (1923 – 1969) contains photographs and photo albums from the Kollman and Binstock families, particularly of family members, friends, and their travels around Europe. The photograph identifications are primarily in German. Included in this series are a number of blank postcards depicting sites and cities in Europe, along with a few from the Middle East.

The Artifacts series consists of the Seal of the City of Vienna, given to Erich Kollman in 1970 at the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Republic of Austria.

Dates

  • 1910 - 2007

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

Biographical / Historical

Gusti Binstock was born in 1912 in Vienna, Austria, to Klara and Adolf Binstock, the third of four children. In 1933, her parents opened a laundry and clothing store in Vienna. As a student at the Gymnasium (high school), Binstock met teacher Erich Kollman. After she graduated, the two began dating and married in 1936.

When her father died in 1938, Kollman began managing her parents’ business. After the German annexation of Austria in March 1938, known as the “Anschluss,” and the nationwide pogrom against Jewish people in November 1938, known as “Kristallnacht,” the Kollmans obtained visas with the help of a friend and colleague, Fritz Redl, and emigrated to the United States in February 1939.

Gusti Kollman’s brother Fritz Binstock was captured at a Zionist youth camp in Germany in 1938 and sent to Buchenwald, a Nazi concentration camp. He was released and emigrated to Israel, where he joined the British-Palestine Army. He was captured on the island of Crete and sent to a POW camp in Austria. Iowa. He died in Israel in 1948.

Several family members followed the Kollmans to the United States. Kollman’s mother, Klara Binstock, and her sister, Grete, and her family immigrated to New York City via Italy. Her brother and sister-in-law Karl and Else Kollman, immigrated in 1941 and settled in Iowa.

Another sister-in-law, Käthe Kollman, would later live with Erich and Gusti Kollman in Iowa.

By the fall of 1939, Erich Kollman had accepted a position as a professor of German at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. In 1943, the family moved to Iowa City where Erich and Gusti Kollman worked as a teacher and drillmaster for the Army Specialized Training Program during World War II. They taught technical skills, as well as Austrian social and cultural competency to American soldiers. In 1944, Erich Kollman accepted a position as a professor of history at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, becoming the college’s first Jewish faculty member. The Kollmans lived in Mt. Vernon for decades and raised their three children Gerda, Peter, and Miriam there.

Kollman’s sister-in-law Käthe Kollman, lived with them in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. She had been a nurse in Vienna before emigrating to the United States and continued to work as a nurse in Iowa. She was involved in several human rights organizations and received certificates and awards from UNICEF, the United Nations, and the Red Cross.

Gusti Kollman continued to live in Mt. Vernon for eighteen years after Erich’s death in 1981. She spent the remainder of her life in Iowa City, and died on March 30, 2019 in Iowa City, Iowa, age 106.

Extent

4.5 linear feet

Photographs in boxes 11 and 12; 5 DVDs [d0493-d0497] items

Language of Materials

English

Overview

Jewish immigrant who fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1939 and settled in Mount Vernon, Iowa

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1406) were donated by Gusti Kollman in 2015. The book Cornell College: A Sesquicentennial History, 1853-2003 was donated by Vivian Heywood (donor no. 1629) in 2015.
Title
Gusti Kollman papers
Author
Korbin Painter, 2019, and Anna Tunnicliff, 2020.
Date
2020
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

Contact:
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5068
319-335-5900 (Fax)