The documents contained in this fonds provide an overview of the different events that have made the life of Gerhart Maass. They tell us about his childhood, the various members of his family, his immigration to Canada, his participation in World War II and his life after the war. The fonds also reflects the efforts of Gerhart to recover the various family properties which were forcibly taken by NSDAP authorities before and during the war. More importantly, it informs us about the bonds between the family members during and after the war despite the separation, isolation and murder of Adolf Maass and Käthe at Auschwitz. The collection includes seven series: S1 Life in Germany, S2 Special Interests, S3 Maass Family , S4 life in Canada before mobilization, S5 Military career, S6 restitution and compensation, S7 Post-war and return to Canada. The fonds is made up of many connections between Gerhart, his parents, his brother Herbert and sister Lisa, photographs, newspaper clippings, card-postcards, notebooks and a few objects.
It contains 548 b&w photographs prints, 27 color photo prints, 236 photo cards, 175 b&w negative film, 80 reels of b&w negative film, a talisman rock, 1 commemorative teaspoon of the royal visit to Canada, 1 badge, 1 military medal, 19 pins, 1 wooden box, 1 clock, 1 soup tureen and 2 demi-tasses with saucers. Narrative: Gerhart Adolf Maass (Hambourg 1918-Montreal 2009), also known as “Gerry”, was the youngest son of Adolf Maass and Käthe Elsbach. In 1935, summoned by his parents to leave Germany, Gerhart had no other idea in mind than coming to Canada. He was well supported by a distant cousin of his father, Rudolf van der Walde, who owned an import business in Hamburg with several subsidiaries around the world. The idea was that once hired, Gerhart could be transferred to the Canadian office of the company. After having worked in Sweden for the Swedish subsidiary, and only after obtaining permission to come to Canada, Gerhart had to return to Germany in 1938 in order to renew his passport and seek a visa at the Canadian Consulate in Hamburg. Gerhart came to Canada in November 1938 and tried to help his parents out of Germany, but in vain. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1942 and in 1944 received his certificate of naturalization, which allowed him to be accepted into the Secret intelligence services. Gerhart served in France, Holland and Germany where he was stationed in the town of Oldenburg, in the British Zone and became the personal assistant of Major Morris DF. He returned to Herford at the end of the war, and recovered the family business (Elsbach co.) which had been confiscated by NSDAP authorities in 1938. After Liberation, he accessed the archives of the Gestapo in Hamburg and found hundreds of documents relating to his family. He learned that after being sent to Theresienstadt ghetto, his parents were deported and murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Gerhart was the last Canadian soldier stationed in Oldenburg and was given the Canadian flag hanging over the entrance of the camp; he later donated it to the Canadian War Museum. Gerhart returned to Canada in September 1946 and settled in Montreal.