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Archives & Manuscripts

Gertrude Weaver Refugee Correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG6-R3-004

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Weaver’s correspondence with the recipients of her post WWII aid, as well as records of the logistics (sending receipts, package contents) of the operation. The majority of the correspondence follows the Bergas, a family of German refugees living in Montauban, France. Hans Bergas resisted the Nazis during their rise to power, and for his political activism was imprisoned and later sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. Though he was eventually liberated and reunited with his family, he remained an invalid as a result of brutal conditions and torture. Because he was bedridden, Bergas had ample time to correspond with Weaver and her students. He wrote an extensive account of his resistance to fascism and his experience in Buchenwald which he sent to Chester High School in segments. Weaver eventually attempted to have Hans Bergas’ memoir published in Readers’ Digest Magazine, but it was rejected. For a while, Weaver reportedly used this memoir in the place of textbooks in her classes.

Weaver developed strong and lasting relationships with the families to whom she sent aid, often corresponding with them during school vacations and holidays, demonstrating that for her it was more than a class project. She made an effort to find other families in need of aid, taking suggestions from those she was in contact with for other families in need, and either corresponded with them directly or put them in contact with another Americans or groups of Americans interested in relief work. In addition to her Bergas correspondence, this collection contains lengthy correspondence with the Kluth, Kühn, and Rollinger families.

The collection is organized into the following series as received:
  1. Gertrude Weaver’s Correspondence and Log of Mailings
  2. Memoir and Correspondence from Hans Bergas and his Family
  3. Other Correspondence
  4. Miscellaneous

Dates

  • 1946-1949

Creator

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Biographical / Historical

Gertrude Weaver graduated from Swarthmore College in 1938 with degrees in German and History. She spent her junior year (1936-1937) in Munich and earned a Masters’ degree in teaching from Columbia University in 1939. She then began teaching German at Chester High School, Delaware Co., Pa., where she and her students sent relief packages to families in Western Europe struggling to survive in impoverished post-World War II Europe. In addition to her career at Chester High School, Weaver also worked in the Newark School District, at Penn State College, and the Shandong College of Oceanography in China. She took additional classes at the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania. Weaver was killed in a car accident in 1998.

For more information on the Bergas family, see Fighting Fascism And Surviving Buchenwald: The Life and Memoir of Hans Bergas by Bension Varon (2015).

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet

Language

English

Overview

Gertrude Weaver graduated from Swarthmore College in 1938 with degrees on German and History, and spent her junior year (1936-1937) in Munich. After graduation, she taught German at Chester High School where she and her students corresponded sent relief packages to families in Western Europe struggling to survive in impoverished post-World War II Europe. This collection contains Weaver’s correspondence with the recipients of her aid, as well as records of the logistics of the operation. The majority of the correspondence involves the Bergas family, German refugees living in Montauban, France.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was originally given to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection by Anna Janney DeArmond and was delivered by John Beer in 1999; Gertrude Weaver lived for many years with Anna Janney DeArmond, Class of 1932, and then at the Cokesbury Retirement Community. The collection was transferred to the Swarthmore College Archives in 1999. It is related to the SCPC DG45 Wilhelm Sollman papers.

Accession number: SCA 1999.014.

Related Materials

See FHL Acc. file RG6/R3/004 for ALS from Suzanne Lege, daughter of Hans Jean Bergas, to Christopher Densmore, Curator, dated 10 mo, 4, 2012. She describes the difficult times the family endured and appreciation for Weaver and her students.

Processing Information

When transferred to Friends Historical Library, some letters and records were loose in folders and others had been placed into display binders (probably by Weaver). The papers that were loose have been organized by family and placed in chronological order. The non-archival binders were dismantled with the exception of a small binder containing correspondence and photographs of the Luxemburg families which has been preserved as compiled by Weaver; the folders preserve Weaver’s methods of classification. Some of the letters have been translated into English, and some have been transcribed. There are many more letters from the recipients than copies of the letters Weaver sent overseas.
Title
Finding Aid for Gertrude Weaver Refugee Correspondence, 1946-1949
Author
FHL staff
Date
2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Find It at the Library

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