LOS ANGELES (JTA) — A rare collection of stamps, letters, ID cards and other documents of the Nazi era was donated to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
Valued at $260,000, the Edward Victor Philatelic Holocaust Collection was acquired and organized by Victor, a retired Los Angeles lawyer, over a 30-year period. In many cases the content tracks the fate of a given Jewish family from the beginning of the Nazi regime in 1933 to its demise in 1945.
After arriving by cattle car at Auschwitz, many Jews were handed postcards with a uniform message thoughtfully prepared by the Nazis.
“Things are going well and we are enjoying ourselves,” the postcard reads.
The Jews added their signatures and the addresses of relatives still in ghettos or labor camps, thus lulling them into the belief that they had nothing to fear when it was their turn for deportation to the east.
The Germans dubbed this deception “Operation Postcard," and some of the originals are included in the Victor Collection.
E. Randol Schoenberg, president of the L.A. Holocaust museum, said the Victor collection represents written and photo information on an “enormous swath” of hundreds of concentration and labor camps, sub-camps and ghettos throughout Europe, as well as refugee internment camps in Britain, Switzerland and Canada.
Victor got the stamp-collecting bug as a youngster, initially concentrating on stamps from Palestine during the Turkish and British administrations, and after 1948 from Israel. As he grew older, he started reading about the Holocaust, and “eventually I merged my philatelic and Holocaust interests,” he said.
Victor soon discovered that there were many people, particularly in Europe, who shared his combined interests.
“It is not just Jews who are interested in this field, but many Germans and other Europeans, and one of the largest collections is at the Cardinal Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History in Weston, Mass.,” he said.