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Walter Weiner and Jenny Wilk Correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: JHCP-006

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the correpsondence between two Jewish teenager pen pals Walter Weiner from Boston and Jenny Wilk from Antwerp, between the years 1938 and 1941. Jenny’s letters provide information about the increase of everyday antisemitism in Antwerp in the late 1930s. She tells Walter about her experiences with verbal insults from her Flemish peers and the rise of violent incidents against Jews in the city. When the war starts, she asks Walter to help her family plan their departure from Europe by tracing a relative who presumably lived in Brooklyn, New York. In his responses Walter encourages Jenny to maintain a positive attitude despite her worries and shares with her his observation of declining antisemitism in the United States. In her last letter, Jenny tells Walter of her escape to France and her experiences in a camp there, before deciding to return to Belgium.

Dates

  • 1938-1941

Creator

Language of Materials

This collection is in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Conditions Governing Use

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Biographical Note

Walter Weiner was born in 1919 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston to Charles and Anna Weiner. His father immigrated to the United States from either Russia or Germany and his mother was born in Massachusetts to Polish immigrants. In 1942 he enlisted to the United States Army to serve during World War II. Walter later married Ruth Berezin, with whom he had three children. Walter died on June 27, 2010.

Jenny Wilk lived with her family in Antwerp when Nazi Germany invaded Belgium in 1940. At first, she escaped together with her mother and brother to a town in southwestern France, but in late 1940 she decided to return to Antwerp where she was reunited with her father. Her last letter to Walter dates from February 1941

References

  1. Materials from the collection.
  2. Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/54238713

Chronology

1919
Weiner is born.
1938
Weiner and Wilk's correspondence begins.
1941
Weiner and Wilk's correspondence begins.
1942
Weiner enlists in the United States Army.
2010
Weiner dies.

Extent

0.25 linear feet (1 half-manuscript box)

Abstract

This collection contains the correspondence between two Jewish teenage pen pals, Walter Weiner from Boston and Jenny Wilk from Antwerp, Belgium, shortly before and during the first years of World War II. The correspondents share their perspectives on antisemitism in Belgium and the United States, and, after Wilk reports about her ordeal since the start of the war, Weiner looks for ways to console and support her from afar.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Edward Weiner, 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by Amir Zelinger, 2019.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Walter Weiner and Jenny Wilk Correspondence, JHCP-006
Author
Amir Zelinger
Date
2019

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245