contributed by Michael & Danie Reisner
My grandmother’s (Elizabeth) father, Wilhelm Marx, owned a substantial printing concern in Munich. My grandfather Hans worked in that business.
In addition, Hans’ father-in-law, Solomon Archenhold, had owned a factory in Wetzlar/Ehringshausen, Germany, that manufactured meat grinding equipment for butchers. In the first world war, the factory was turned into a munitions factory.
After the war, the factory was shut down and sold, and Solomon Archenhold became a distributor for Krupp. This license was apparently made through an introduction by Hirschland family cousins who were bankers to Krupp in Essen. (That would be the Simon Hirschland Bank.) However, when Solomon died (Hans was in his twenties), this license became was the subject of litigation with Krupp , about which Hans negotiated the settlement. As a result of these early business experiences in combination with his engineering degree from University of Munich, made him a successful business person (with an early international view) both in Germany and late in life.
As things deteriorated politically during the late 1930s, my grandparents applied to enter the U.S., and were issued a waiting list number of sorts. Prior to being allowed into the U.S., but before Hitler halted all Jewish emigration, one of my grandfather’s business associates urged him to get his family out and come to England. And that is what Hans, Elizabeth, and their young daughter Susie did. Shortly after they left Germany, Jews could no longer leave. The story is also one of ingenuity and persistence as Hans and his father in law (Wilhelm Marx) were held by the Nazis at Dachau for months in 1939, before it became a death camp.
The closing of German Jewish emigration meant that my grandparents’ waiting list number for entry into the U.S. ramped up very quickly: all the other German numbers were no longer actionable. The family came to New York in 1939 and moved into an apartment. While my grandmother and mother stayed in New York, by grandfather got on a train and traveled to Kansas City where he had heard that a growing greeting card company, Hall Brothers, might need help. At the time, German lithography was far ahead of American printing and my grandfather had a lot to offer this growing concern. The story of how my grandfather got the job is a case study in persistence, but the result is that he got the job, summoned the family to Kansas City, and had a remarkable career with that company, now known as Hallmark Cards. He retired in 1968 as Vice-President of Graphic Arts. My grandparents spent the rest of their lives in Kansas City.
My mother met my father, Peter Reisner, in Kansas City. The Reisners were also German Jewish refugees. The Reisners were from Berlin and Austria, and emigrated in 1939. Career opportunities brought the family to Chicago in the early 60s.