Wilhelm (William Henry) Levy (Lewy, Sellings)

born on 02/22/1880 in Georgensgmünd/Middle Franconia
died on 02/20/1962 in Los Angeles

DGIM Member 1913 – 1932

Wilhelm Levy (Lewy) was the son of a Middle Franconian family described as patriotic. His father, the merchant Heinrich Levy (1845-1916), born in Kirchplatz/Posen, had received the "Kriegsgedenkmünze für Combattanten 1870-71" (War Memorial Coin for Combattants 1870-71) as a participant in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, was chairman of the "Veteranen- und Kampfgenossenverein" (Veterans and Combat Comrades Association) in Georgensgmünd and arranged for having a war memorial placed in the town in 1890. Heinrich Levy was first married to Rosalie Seeling, who died in 1877, and in his second marriage to her sister Pauline Seeling, who was born in 1852. Wilhelm's half-sister Babette, came from the first marriage.1

In Bad Reichenhall Since 1911

Wilhelm Levy first worked in Nuremberg after having completed his medical studies. Hhe settled in the Villa Maria Viktoria in Bad Reichenhall, Ludwigstraße 16, as a physician for internal medicine, pulmonology and diseases of the throat, nose and respiratory system in 1911. He rose to the rank of senior physician in the reserves during World War I.2

Escape Following Humiliations

Levy faced reprisals as a Jew after 1933. For example, he was harassed by a public address system set up in front of his property. The owners of the boardinghouse discouraged the spa guests from visiting the practice.3Levy fled Bad Reichenhall with his wife Elsa and their son on August 10, 1936, initially to Prague.4 The family left Europe from Trieste on the passenger ship "Vulcania" on September 10, 1936 and reached New York on September 24, 1936.5 In the U.S., Wilhelm Levy initially lived on West End Avenue in New York. He took on his wife's name in 1943, and was henceforth known as William Henry Sellings; his wife Elsa henceforth called herself Yella Sellings.6

William Levy died in Los Angeles, California, on February 20, 1962, just before his 82nd birthday.7

Death of Mother and Half-Sister

Levy's mother died after years of persecution on November 13 1940 at the age of 88. She had lived in a Munich Jewish old people's home on Mathildenstrasse since 1933, which was temporarily closed after the pogroms of November 9.8 Levy's half-sister Babette Wittkowsky perished in Theresienstadt in 1943 under unknown circumstances.9


Gerd Berghofer, Juden in Georgensgmünd, listing in:, Aug. 26, 2019. Cf. Gerd Berghofer, Die Anderen. Das fränkische Georgensgmünd und seine Juden vor und während des Dritten Reiches, 2nd ed. Berlin 2014, p. 84. See ibid, p. 350 f. the printed land register excerpts documenting the location of Wilhelm Levy's parental home.Inhabitants' registration card index and spa list, Bad Reichenhall city archives; cf. Berghofer, Die Anderen, p. 330.See Johannes Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, Neustadt an der Aisch 2009, p. 757.The National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944, Series: M1972, Roll: 1404.National Archives at Washington, D.C., Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897, Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls, NAI: 6256867, Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36, National Archives at Washington, D.C.The National Archives at St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, Record Group Title, Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975, Record Group Number 147.State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics, California Death Index, 1940-1997, Sacramento, CA, USA.Stadtarchiv München, Biographisches Gedenkbuch der Münchner Juden 1933-1945, entry Lewy, Pauline (, Aug. 26, 2019), cf. Berghofer, The Others, p. 330.See Berghofer, The Others, p. 330.

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