Kollman, Gusti, 1912 - 2019
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.