The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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8 May 1933

Letter from Lili Cassel to her former nanny

Shortly after her ninth birthday, Lili Cassel (b. 1924) wrote this letter to her former nanny, Leni, telling her who had come to her "children‘s party." She decorated the letter with pictures of her birthday gifts. The joy and happiness of a carefree childhood are in clear evidence. Lili‘s great passion was painting and drawing and with this in mind her parents had given her a new box of colored pencils, which she drew in detail for Leni.

The Cassel family lived in Berlin, where Lili‘s father worked as a dermatologist treating patients in the middleclass district of Wilmersdorf. Soon after her birthday, the Nazis‘ anti-Jewish laws began affecting her life as well. She was soon forced to leave her school in Wilmersdorf due to legislation passed on 25 April restricting the proportion of Jewish children at public schools. She spent three years at a Catholic institution before she was accepted by the Waldschule Kaliski, a private Jewish reform school.

Lili‘s family emigrated to England after the November Pogrom of 1938 and continued on to the United States in 1940. In 1952 Lili married Erich Wronker, whom she had known since her childhood. Erich‘s family had owned Hermann Wronker AG and run several department stores in various German cities until the company was 'Aryanized' in 1934.

In the United States Lili Wronker studied art and became a successful book illustrator. She has been affiliated with the Jewish Museum as a donor since 2000 and in 2008 served as a historical witness at a workshop held by the museum‘s archive, telling young people about her life.

Michaela Roßberg

Categorie(s): Berlin | childhood
Letter from Lili Cassel to her former nanny, Leni, Berlin, 8 May 1933 (front).
Gift of the Oldenburg Project Group