Fonds A.2019.009 - Langer Family fonds

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Langer Family fonds

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CA JMABC A.2019.009

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  • 1874 - 2019 (Creation)
    Langer family

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Physical description

47.5 cm of graphic material (ca. 500 photographs) and textual records

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(1874 -)

Biographical history

Fritz and Olga Langer fled Vienna with their son Michael Hans Max Langer (later Livni) and their daughter Lucy (later Laufer) at the outbreak of World War II, when Lucy was only 7 months old. The family escaped to France, where they waited in the suburbs of Paris for approximately 8 months until they were allowed into Palestine in February of 1939. Times were tumultuous in Palestine, and Fritz struggled to find work. In 1942, the Langers left Palestine for Canada, where Fritz’s previous employers in Austria had emigrated. The influence and financial support of the Bloch-Bauer (later Bentley) and Pick (later Prentice) families made it possible for the Langers to be included in the 112 Jews who were admitted to Canada by Order in Council in that year. The first stop was Trinidad, where they waited to receive visas to travel through the United States. After getting their visas, the family boarded a ship called the Robert E. Lee. One day out from port, the Robert E. Lee was torpedoed and sunk within minutes. The family’s important documents, money, and Olga’s jewelry was lost, but the family survived on a lifeboat. They were eventually rescued and taken to port in New Orleans. The Langers were able to see their family in St. Louis, Missouri and New York, New York before they finally arrived in Vancouver, four years after they first left their home in Austria.

Olga Langer (born Spitzer) was born in 1900 in Vienna. She grew up in a moderately upper-class household and completed grade 12, including some Jewish education. Following her education, Olga worked as a bookkeeper for her father. She married Fritz Langer in 1924, in Vienna. The couple enjoyed travel and recreation together in their youth. The transition from her life of relative ease in Europe to the struggles of life in Canada was difficult for Olga, but she proved herself a devoted mother and incredibly supportive wife. Olga worked full-time in her husband’s store and ran the household, a life member of Hadassah who was too busy to ever attend a single meeting. She died in Vancouver in 1982. Olga’s parents were Alfred and Else (born Selinko) Spitzer.

Friedrich (Fritz) Langer (born Lowy) was born in 1891 in Vienna. Fritz was an officer in the First World War in the Mounted Artillery of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Fritz was an insightful and practical man; He changed his last name from Lowy to Langer in 1918 to avoid discrimination. Fritz received a law degree from the University of Vienna and worked managing cotton mills for the Picks and Bloch-Bauers, eventually helping his employers get out of Austria following the Nazi invasion on the 12th of March in 1938. In Canada, Fritz first worked for Pacific Veneer and Plywood in New Westminster, and in 1944 opened The New Stamp Shop on Hornby (later West Pender), which he ran until a few years before he died in 1976 at the age of 84. Fritz’s parents were Morris and Helene Lowy.

Olga’s mother Elsa was born to Rosalie Kaufman and Franz Salinko in 1875. She worked as a private English teacher and maintained the home. Elsa died of cancer in 1929. Alfred was born to Morris and Yohanna (born Goldstein) Spitzer in 1870 and died in 1959. Alfred was a bank director and bookkeeper, and moved to St. Louis, MO in the United States as a refugee in 1939. Alfred re-married following Elsa’s death, to Ella Than. Alfred and Elsa had three daughters: Olga (born 1900), Elizabeth (Liese, born 1901), and Margaret (Grete, born 1902, married Arthur Golz).

Fritz’s father Morris Lowy was born in 1855 in Bratislava to Adolf Lowy and [Jetty Schwarz], and moved to Vienna with his family at a very young age in the late 1850s. As an adult he owned a company that manufactured children’s clothing. Morris died in 1927. Helene was born to Heinrich and Caroline (born Mayer) Lemberger in Vienna in 1862 and died of cancer in 1915. Morris and Helene had two children: Fritz and Marianne (Mimi, married name Geyerahn).

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of photographs, photo albums, and some miscellaneous textual records from the Langer family. Materials include portraits, travel photos, and other family memorabilia.

The fonds is organized into six series: Family background, the Langer family, the Spitzer family, the Lowy family, the Geyerhahn family, and assorted unidentified. The fonds also includes three photo albums at the file level: Max and Lucy baby album, [Spitzer family pre-WWI photo album], and Gibian family photo album.

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Fonds was donated with no particular organization. The archivist arranged the fonds to reflect Langer family structures. Series 5 (Geyerhahn family) was created to preserve the original order of photographs which were stored together. As such, material relating to the Geyerhahn family can be found in series 4 and 5.

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