Franz Lehman letters and other material
Scope and Contents
This collection consists mostly of letters, both handwritten and typed, most of which were written by Franz Lehman to members of his family and recount his experiences with a military government unit of the U.S. Army in the European Theater of World War Two and in postwar occupied Germany (1943 to 1946). Other letters relate to Lehman’s relationships with friends in Germany after his departure for the United States, from 1947 to 1949. A few letters are to and from other members of Lehman’s family. Some of the letters have attached photographs. The collection also includes a note of permission, signed by his commanding officers, allowing Lehman to send war trophies home. The collection addresses many topics of interest to historians, including the experience of soldiers during the Allied campaign in Western Europe 1944-45, American preparations for military government in postwar Germany, the conduct of military government and Denazification, Allied efforts at locating Nazi archives and protecting art and artifacts, and Lehman’s efforts to find and aid a relative, Aunt Hedi, held at the German concentration camp at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. Lehman’s letters include lengthy reflections on the difference between the French Zone of Occupation and the American one, as well as reflections on relations between the American occupiers and the Germans and on the Displaced Persons issue in postwar Germany.
- Creation: 1943 - 1949, undated
- Lehman, Franz (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests to reproduce or publish material from the collection should be directed to the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.
Biographical / Historical
Franz Lehman served with a military government unit of the U.S. Army during the Second World War and after, beginning as a Private First Class and ending the war as a Corporal. His service took him to the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg and Germany. After the Allied invasion of Germany in spring 1945, Lehman became part of the military government of Hesse-Palatinate in Neustadt. There he was responsible for finding, compiling and analyzing Nazi party archives in order to aid in the task of Denazification, a legal purge of former Nazis. When the French army took over from the Americans in the region, Lehman asked to be reassigned and joined the History, Political Intelligence, Arts and Monuments Department, responsible for tracking down and preserving both Nazi archives and art and artifacts. During his time in Europe, he undertook a personal mission to send aid to a relative, Aunt Hedi, held at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia, and even attempted to visit her in person there. In 1946, Lehman was demobilized and moved to New York, New York. He maintained correspondence with friends in Germany for years afterward.
.5 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)
Language of Materials
Arranged in two series: 1. Letters to and from Franz Lehman, 1943-1949, undated, and 2. Letters to and from others, 1944 to 1945. Material in both series is arranged chronologically
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Barbara Halpern, Franz Lehman's niece, in January 2016.
- Franz Lehman letters and other material, 1943 - 1949, undated
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script