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Red Cross Volunteers

Red Cross Volunteers

New Home Club/Red Cross, taken December 21, 1943. My mother is seventh from the right side.

Forty Jewish refugees from Germany founded the "Society of Friends" (Gesellschaft der Freunde) in Milwaukee on 8 September 1935 to aid Jews fleeing the Nazis by helping them assimilate into American society. The group changed its name to the "New Home Club" in 1941. After the U.S. entered World War II, the Club worked with the Red Cross on blood drives and on the production of surgical dressings, and assisted members in changing their "enemy alien" status.

After the war, the Club helped displaced Jews, and created a relief fund to help Jews in Austria and Germany. The Club provided financial assistance for Israel, and purchased an ambulance for use in the 1967 Six-Day War. Throughout its existence, the New Home Club actively promoted social events such as dances, dinners, and lectures. The Club's membership, which was never very large, gradually declined as fewer persons required its assistance. The organization ceased operations in 1985, although it came together for a 50th anniversary celebration in 1987.


New Home Club Seder

New Home Club Seder

This photograph was taken at the New Home Club’s Passover Seder, April 16, 1957. From left to right: Rick Florsheim, my brother Dennis Samenfeld, my cousin Sandy Baer, and me Gary Samenfeld. Standing behind us is Dr. Herman Weil who led the Seders every year. This photo was in the Milwaukee Sentinel and there was also an article about the New Home Club, whose members were primarily the families of Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany and found their new freedom in the United States. My father was interviewed in this article: Commented Erich Samenfeld of 1729 E. Cumberland Blvd. a livestock dealer, who emigrated from northern Germany in 1938: “Those who have desperately needed a helping hand know best the needs of others in similar situations.” My Uncle Walter Jacobsohn was President of The New Home Club for 20 years.
I would like to add that in Germany, at a very young age, and at the request of Martin Buber, Dr. Weil was in charge of a university for Jewish students, as they were no longer allowed to attend public universities. In Milwaukee, when Dr. Weil was not teaching, he was at the Federal Court House vouching for the members of The New Home Club, that they would be good citizens, so that they could get jobs. Even though all of these people had escaped from the persecution of the Nazis, in America they were considered to be, “enemy aliens.”


New Home Club Picnic / Pewaukee Lake / June 1946

New Home Club Picnic / Pewaukee Lake / June 1946

This is the famous photo that my mother is in that Emile Jacobsohn showed to my father in 1946. My mother was 23 at the time. Emile was the uncle of my Uncle Walter Jacobsohn. It was also because of Uncle Emile that my dad and Uncle Walter moved to Milwaukee.
From Uncle walter’s story:
After Erich returned,(he means after my dad came back from the army)we made up our minds to get back into the cattle business. My Uncle Emile, who lived in Milwaukee, had made a lot of friends also in the cattle business, namely, Otto Hammel and Willi Hessel. After a little correspondence, Erich and myself left in May by train for a so-called inspection trip. We liked what we saw and one month later, we both left New York for Milwaukee in a Studebaker truck.
In the photo my mother is in the second row second from the left. To her left are Opa Karl and Oma Julchen. Seated directly in front of Oma and Opa is Harri and Herta Hoffmann. When I was 17 and 18 I worked in Mr. Hoffmann’s factory. In the back row fourth from the right is Fred Sanders. Mr. Sanders had a son who served in the US Army and was killed in action. When I was 16 I worked in a supermarket where Mr. Sanders shopped. He would always say to me “someday you’ll own this store.”