Sunday, February 23, 2014

Escaping the Holocaust: Letters from an Austrian Jew

         James Lobell was a prominent businessman in the footwear and shoe polish industry in the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s. I wrote my master's thesis about his experience as an entrepreneur. I was very fortunate, because I am in possession of all of his personal papers: photographs, business plans, financial reviews, personal letters, etc.  He started Cavalier Shoe Polish Company; this was later purchased by KIWI in 1961.  Found in the trove of papers is a grouping of letters from an Austrian Jew, written in 1939. Hitler's Nazi armies invaded Austria in 1938, and thereafter did his best to make life short for most Jews in lands he ruled. 
         So, I have these letters, and I am wondering what happened to this Austrian Jew and his family? Did they survive? The letters will be of use to teachers and students concerned with the Holocaust. I have scanned in the letters below in the order that Mr. Lobell had them grouped. If any of you can help me find information about Sigmund Schmahl, please comment or email me at 

Here is information I have uncovered: 
1. From the US Holocaust Museum
2. List of Jews that the Nazis gathered with Sigmund Schmahl's correct name, DOB, and address.
Mystery SOLVED; I received this from the HOLOCAUST MUSEUM in Washington, DC, after I inquired about Sigmund Schmahl:  A preliminary search of the newly-arriving records of the International Tracing Service (ITS) seems to indicate that while Mr. Schmahl survived the War, he died in Italy on December 15, 1949, possibly in Naples.  The surviving members of his family, his wife Hilde (born July 18, 1903) and daughter Herthe (born September 14, 1935) later emigrated to the United States via Bremen, Germany on September 23, 1950.

Letter One

Letter Two 

Letter Three

Letter Four

Letter Five

Mr. Lobell kept the envelope and glued it to the back of this letter

Letter Seven

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wahl-Coates School: Greenville, NC

        This school is named after two people: Frances Wahl and Dora Coates. What is now Wahl-Coates School in Greenville, North Carolina, was formerly known as the “Model School.”  It served as laboratory for East Carolina education students and functioning grade school for children of Greenville. The elementary school was a place where educational theory met the real classroom. In collusion with East Carolina Teachers College, now East Carolina University, The Model School opened in the fall of 1914.
        As leaders of the Model School, Wahl and Coates’ philosophy shines through in the documents they have left behind. The East Carolina Teachers’ College Bulletin for The Training School of 1939 states: “We [The Training School Staff] have tried to avoid current (or future!) popular educational jargon, believing that latest popular –isms tend to obscure clear thinking in the profession, encourage fades, and advertize quacker.”   . . . “It does seek to help those who are concerned with childhood learn how to study the child objectively. It tries to stand for certain principles which its teachers believe, in light of study, experience, and observation, to be fundamental to child welfare. It seeks to develop teachers who are intelligent, who grow, who are professional in the highest sense, who believe in democracy, and who, with courage, stand for the welfare and rights of children.”
        During the 1953-1954 school year, the school’s building was renamed by ECU to the Wahl-Coates School in honor of two faithful benefactors: its principal Frances Wahl and primary teacher Dora Coates. Coates was also an ECU faculty member in the School of Education. A new Wahl-Coates School was built in January in 1972 and hosted grades K-6. As of 2009, grades Kindergarten to grade five are taught. Since its inception, Wahl-Coates provided educational opportunities for the children of Greenville as well as the students at East Carolina University studying to become teachers.

author: Steven A. Hill

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Art in US History Class: 2014

I teach US History in a North Carolina public high school. Each semester I use art; however, this semester, I am taking pains to keep track of each and every piece of art and image that we analyze in class.  This link will take you to the page I am using to document this effort. It will be updated throughout the Spring Semester of 2014: Enjoy ! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Barbary Wars: using ThingLink

Click HERE and you'll be directed to how I use THINGLINK to marry up all that the WorldWideWeb has to offer about the Barbary Wars. I start class off with a VTS about this image and let the students try to make sense of it. This is a visual method of introducing the Barbary Wars. THEN, I'll use the Thinglink Tags to broaden our discussion about the Barbary Wars. After exploring the image and talking about the Barbary Wars, I will engage students in a grammactical treatment of the topic.