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The Richard and Greta Hamm Family Papers

Identifier: Mss-441

Scope and Contents

The Richard and Greta Hamm Family Papers, 1920-1989, consisting of personal papers, legal documents, and newspaper clippings relating to the Hamm family's life in Germany, escape to Shanghai, and eventual permanent relocation in the United States.


  • Creation: 1920 - 1989


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions on use.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Hamm was born on May 28, 1897 in Hamburg, Germany to Moritz and Minna Hamm. In the late 1920s, Richard met Greta Rohde, born December 19, 1905, in Bremen, Germany. The two were married on November 2, 1931. They were an interfaith couple, with Richard being Jewish and Greta being Christain.

They lived a happy life until the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933. Following a police summons, Richard was sent to Dachau prison camp (later concentration camp) in September 1938. He was released from the camp in December 1938.

After witnessing the horrors of Dachau, the Hamms fled to Italy in early 1939. However, their stay was shortlived. After the Italian government under Benito Mussolini began enforcing antisemitic regulations, the Hamms sought refuge in Shanghai, China. At the time, Shanghai was one of the only places without visa requirements for entry. The Hamms remained in Shanghai for 8 years, residing in what would eventually be known as the Shanghai Ghetto.

With the help of Richard's older brother, the Hamms immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia in 1947. They both became natrualized citizens in 1952. While they never had children of their own, the Hamms became adopted family members of their next door neighbors, the Mitchells. Richard and Greta were invited to all family gatherings and treated the family's two sons as their grandchildren. With no other close family, the Mitchells cared for the Hamms in their last years of life. Richard died in 1971, and 20 years later, Greta died in 1991.

The Mitchell family donated these papers in their memory and in hopes of educating future generations.


.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials




Various papers collected by the Richard and Greta Hamm during their lives in Germany then Shanghai then America from 1920 to 1989.


The collection is arranged alphabetically in the box and chronologically in each folder.

Physical Location

The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Separated Materials

Photographs seperated into visual arts collection. Original newspaper copies are in the oversized cabinet with the newspaper collection.

Richard and Greta Hamm Family Papers Mss 441
In Progress
Kayley Rapp
August 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States