Zimm Family Papers / Record Group 91

Title Zimm Family Papers

Dates 1990–2009

Accession Number RG-91

Extent 0.2 linear foot (1 box)

Provenance Donated by the Zimm family

Biographical Note

Helen Zimm (née Drexler), Nana Drexler, and Halina Zimm (née Drexler) were born in Lodz, Poland to Solomon and Brandla Drexler. The Drexler family was relatively prosperous, owning a wholesale business and soap factory in Lodz. In September 1939 the family was forced to move to Zarnow, Poland. There they lived in a single room, and survived by selling and trading handmade soap.

Fearing his family would soon be deported, in 1942 Solomon procured two forged birth certificates for Helen and Halina. With the help of a neighbor, who provided Solomon with the birth certificates, Helen and Halina took on Christian identities, becoming Niusia and Wanda Kazusek, respectively. Solomon was unable to procure a certificate for Nana.

That year, Helen and Halina went to Warsaw, Poland under their assumed identities. Both obtained housekeeper positions, with Helen working in Milosna, Poland and Halina working in Warsaw. Nana later joined her sisters, having escaped capture and deportation. Solomon and Brandla perished during this time.

Helen continued to work outside of Warsaw for the duration of the war while Halina was later sent to work as cook for the German army. Halina escaped at the end of the war, avoiding capture by Russian forces who were encroaching on the Germans she was hiding among.

At the end of the War, the sisters reunited in Lodz, where Halina also met her future husband Alan Zimm. After the war, Helen and Nana went to Toronto to live with their aunt. Halina remained in Europe, marrying Alan in 1948 and immigrating to Richmond in 1949.

Alan was also a Holocaust survivor. He was born in Kolo, Poland to Mencham and Shaina Ziemniak. He was one of nine siblings. In 1939 Alan relocated to Bugay and then Warta, Poland, spending some of this time in hiding. He was captured in 1942 and sent with his family to the Lodz ghetto. He remained there until 1943 after which he was sent to a number of concentration camps: Czestochowa, Buchenwald, Dora, and Bergen Belsen. He was liberated April 15, 1945.

Alan thought he was the only survivor from his family, but later found his older brother, Sol, in a German Displaced Persons (DP) Camp. During the Holocaust, Sol was sent to a number of labor and concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Sol was liberated in 1945 after surviving a two month death march. After the war, Sol ended up in a DP camp in Salgau, Germany. He came to Richmond in 1949 with the assistance of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Thalhimer family. Sol met his wife, Helen, through his brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Halina. After the couple was married, Helen moved to Richmond as well. The Zimms started a tailor business in town, and remained in the area with their growing families.

Restriction on Access No restriction    Restriction on Use No restriction    Language English

Preferred Citation Virginia Holocaust Museum, Record Group 91, Zimm Family Papers, [Folder #].

Scope and Content

The Zimm Family Papers contain biographical materials, photographs, claims applications, articles, and presentation materials. Biographical materials include short biographies, interview notes, and VHM survivor location documents. Photographs are of the family, depicting Helen, Nana, and Halina’s grandparents and aunts; Helen’s wartime employer; a childhood photo of Helen; and pictures of Helen and Sol, and Halina and Alan in the States. Claims applications were completed by Helen, Nana, and Halina, and are for lost family businesses, possessions, and for compensation for forced labor. Articles largely discuss the Zimms’ experiences during the Holocaust, and their involvement in remembrance and education efforts. Finally, presentation materials consist of correspondences, mainly thank you notes to the Zimms for speaking engagements.


Box Folder Contents
1 1 Biographical materials
1 2 Photographs
1 3 Claims Applications
1 4 Articles
1 5 Presentation Materials

Indexing Terms

  • Zimm, Helen (Drexler) (b. March 8, 1924)
  • Zimm, Helen (Dreksler) (b. March 8, 1924)
  • Zimm, Helen (Drecksler) (b. March 8, 1924)
  • Kazusek, Niusia (b. March 8, 1924)
  • Zimm, Sol (b. October 1, 1911, d. May 5, 1993)
  • Zimm, Solomon (b. October 1, 1911, d. May 5, 1993)
  • Zimm, Halina (b. December 4, 1927)
  • Zimniak, Halina (b. December 4, 1927)
  • Drexler, Halina (b. December 4, 1927)
  • Dreksler, Halina (b. December 4, 1927)
  • Kazusek, Wanda (b. December 4, 1927)
  • Zimm, Alan (b. May 24, 1920)
  • Ziemniak, Alan (b. May 24, 1920)
  • Dreksler, Regina Wadonska (b. 1891, d. October 1942)
  • Dreksler, Brandla (b. 1891, d. October 1942)
  • Drexler, Brandla (b. 1891, d. October 1942)
  • Dreksler, Solomon (b. 1897, d. October 1942)
  • Drexler, Solomon (b. 1897, d. October 1942)
  • Dreksler, Nana (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Drexler, Nana (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Dreksler, Manya (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Wadowska, Selig (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Wadowska, Rivka (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Waldowska, Zaylik (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Waldowska, Rachel (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Wadovska, Rachel (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Wadowska, Esther (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Wadowska, Hinda (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Wadowska, Mendel (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Zemniak, Rivkah (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Ziemnack, Menacham (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Ziemniak, Shaina (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • Faiber, Max (b. unknown, d. unknown)
  • McMahon, Ruth Zimm (b. unknown)
  • Zimm, Melvin R. (b. 1954, d. August 7, 2009)
  • McMahon, Jeremy (b. unknown)
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)—Poland
  • Lodz, Poland
  • Salgau, Germany
  • Kolo, Poland
  • Zarnov, Poland
  • Zarnow, Poland
  • Milosna, Poland
  • Bugay, Poland
  • Warta, Poland
  • Lublin, Poland
  • Javorzna, Poland
  • Landsberg, Germany
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Schlachtensee (Berlin, Germany)
  • Fernwald, Germany
  • Lodz ghetto
  • Warsaw ghetto
  • Auschwitz (concentration camp)
  • Czestochowa (concentration camp)
  • Treblinka (concentration camp)
  • Buchenwald (concentration camp)
  • Dora (concentration camp)
  • Dora-Mittelbau (concentration camp)
  • Nordhausen (concentration camp)
  • Bergen Belsen (concentration camp)
  • Gross-Rosen (concentration camp)
  • Warsaw (Poland)—History—Uprising, 1944
  • Hidden children (Holocaust)
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)—Reparations
  • The International Commission of Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
  • Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation
  • Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc.
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
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