- HART, Pia T
- WOLFF, Alfred T
- WOLFF, Louise née NECHELES T
About the Family
The WOLFF couple, from Belgium, were the guardians of Pia HART, a refugee child born in Germany, of Polish nationality, whose parents were trapped in Germany and interned there.
The WOLFF couple and Pia escaped together to Portugal, presumably after having obtained visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and resided in Porto.
In Portugal, Alfred WOLFF was jailed by the Portuguese authorities, and released on the condition that he and his wife leave the country as soon as possible. Pia was then left behind in Portugal, in the care of others.
The WOLFF couple traveled from Lisbon to New York on the vessel Nea Hellas in September 1940, and then settled in Chicago. They continued their appeals on behalf of the child.
Eventually Pia obtained her US visa, and traveled from Lisbon to New York on the vessel Exeter in December 1940.
Letter from Max Gottschalk to Robert Pell, US State Department, September 19, 1940
Appeal concerning Pia Hart
Friends of mine, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wolff of Belgian nationality had taken care in Belgium of a German girl of about ten years. When they had to escape from Belgium they took the child with them. They went to Portugal where Mr. and Mrs. Wolff succeeded in getting American visas and would surely have waited in Portugal until they could have secured one for the child but for some still unknown reason the Portuguese sent Mr. Wolff to prison. They released him only on condition that he leave Portugal at once. And so they had to leave the child with strangers.
The American Consul in Oporto became interested in the case and on August 5, 1940 sent the Department of State a cablegram.... The answer, unhappily, said in an administrative way that children under 16 could only travel with their parents. The American Consul under these circumstances regretted very much that he could not give a visa to the child.
Mr. and Mrs. Wolff consider themselves the parents of the child and if they have not adopted her it is only because Belgian laws put some conditions with regard to age which are not yet fulfilled.
In the very near future, Mrs. Tuteur, of whom I spoke with you will be leaving Portugal. The child knows her and it would be especially desirable that she leave with her. I would be deeply grateful if you could advise the Consul that the Department of State does not oppose this as the Consul himself seemed to be quite prepared to grant the visa.
I know the respect due regulations but the United States Government will show a large understanding of the exceptional times in which we live and as in many cases grant this visa due to the exceptional merits of the case and for the many humanitarian reasons which I do not have to put before you.