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Wagner and Hubner families correspondence with the Wenger family

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: 6261

Scope and Contents

The Wagner and Hubner families correspondence with the Wenger family consist of 49 letters sent to Clayton P. Wenger and Suie S. Wenger, a Mennonite couple in Pennsylvania involved in charitable work among displaced and impoverished families in Austria during the years following World War II. The collection includes ten letters from Mr. and Mrs. Karl Wagner, a displaced couple living in Linz, Austria, and 36 letters from the Hubner family, a large and destitute family in Vienna. The Wengers sent the Wagners and the Hubners regular packages of food and clothing via the Brethren Service Commission (from which three letters are also included) and the Cooperative For American Remittances to Europe. In return, the Wagner and Hubner families penned these letters expressing their deep gratitude, making requests for future aid packages, and writing about their lives in war-torn Austria.

The Wagners became displaced persons when their homes were destroyed by bombs during the war. In 1947, a representative of the Brethren Service Commission who visited the Wagners wrote "Yesterday we went to his home to see the conditions for ourselves. Their home and all the furnishings were destroyed by bombs so he and his wife (there are no children) have one room and the use of the kitchen in a small apartment owned by another family [...] she was doing some sewing to earn a few schillings [...] During the war he received head injuries which some times bother him." Karl Wagner, who wrote the letters for the Wagner family, underscored the seriousness of their situation as follows: "during this dreadful war I was bound to work in ironing work but this plant was heavy damaged by air raids and therefore I lost my position there. By the bad condition of nourishment I became ill and now I am unable to do heavy work [...] By war events we lost almost all our goods and clothes and the rest of our clothing was stolen by plunderer. All our property is, what we are wearing on our body [...] we dare to beg you to send us some food or used clothing, as we are not able to purchase here neither food nor clothing."

The Hubners, meanwhile, were a struggling family with many children to feed and a daughter with tuberculosis living in a sanatorium in Belgium. The included letters were written by Leopoldine Hubner, the family matriarch, writing in German, and by Elisabeth Hubner, a teenage daughter, who added her letters in English on the same stationery. The German portions of the letters were translated by an intermediary, Erna Bergen of the Mennonite Central Committee in Ohio, whose typed translations are included in the envelopes. Both writers discussed the gifts they received and offered their thanks; while Elisabeth's letters also record the experiences of a teenager in post-war Europe--working in her father's business, learning English, playing with her siblings, Leopoldine's letters occasionally express her anxieties about supporting her family:

Your dear parcels have given us so much joy [...] The joy was so great for every one of us. Elisabeth is using the comforter already [...] The dresses fit, and today she is wearing the green one with the white dots [...] She helps me wherever she can, and the food she always divides into even parts. She gives from the dresses to her sisters. She would have liked to study, but our finances do not allow this, and so she had to stop and helps my husband in his business. In the great markethall we have a business of food and groceries, but we have a lot of competition. My husband is worrying all the time [...] We buy meat only for Sundays, because it is very expensive [...]

I am without advice and often very worried. My husband wants to go away from here. He would like to keep the house and sell only the business and with that money pay for the transportation. But no one has been found that will purchase it. Thus one has worries and all this would not have needed to come if the inhuman war had not come.

Dates

  • 1947 - 1951

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Department of Special Collections at specol@usc.edu. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections 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.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

Finding aid description and metadata are licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Extent

0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials

English

German

Abstract

The Wagner and Hubner families correspondence with the Wenger family consist of 49 letters sent to Clayton P. Wenger and Suie S. Wenger, a Mennonite couple in Pennsylvania involved in charitable work among displaced and impoverished families in Austria during the years following World War II. The collection includes ten letters from Mr. and Mrs. Karl Wagner, a displaced couple living in Linz, Austria, and 36 letters from the Hubner family, a large and destitute family in Vienna. The Wengers sent the Wagners and the Hubners regular packages of food and clothing via the Brethren Service Commission (from which three letters are also included) and the Cooperative For American Remittances to Europe. In return, the Wagner and Hubner families penned these letters expressing their deep gratitude, making requests for future aid packages, and writing about their lives in war-torn Austria. The Wagners--a married couple without children--became displaced persons when their homes were destroyed by bombs during the war. The Hubners were a struggling family with many children to feed and a daughter with tuberculosis living in a sanatorium in Belgium.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Caroliniana Rare Books, March 1, 2022.

Title
Finding aid for the Wagner and Hubner families correspondence with the Wenger family
Status
Completed
Author
Bo Doub -- with collection-level notes adapted from the seller, Caroliniana Rare Books
Date
2022 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States