UAH Archives, Special Collections, and Digital Initiatives

Hildegard Nörenberg Collection

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Hildegard Nörenberg Collection


Hildegard Nörenberg Collection


Hildegard Anna Maria Nörenberg, born March 13, 1904 in Berlin-Tegel, Berlin, Germany was trained as a midwife at the Clinic for Obstetrics of the University of Tübingen from 1935 to 1936. She was an active member of The Order of St. John at that time, doing both midwifery and infant care. She did not graduate high school but was given special permission to attend college in Berlin as a student of medicine. She passed her qualifying examination with a mark of “good,” allowing her to practice as a state recognized nurse in Germany. There, she acted as head nurse of the Delivery and Maternity Department at the Johanniter Hospital in Bonn, Germany, from March to May 1956.

She immigrated to the United States on September 15, 1956, arriving on the Berndt Leonhardt. Originally living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she worked for short periods at the Wilmington General Hospital in Delaware, and the Delaware State Hospital at Farnhurst. Despite the language barrier, she was well recommended by both institutions. She later moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where her sister Maria resided. Her brother-in-law, Werner Kuers, was employed at Marshall Space Flight Center after immigrating to the United States to work on Operation Paperclip. While in Huntsville, Nörenberg worked as a midwife. She applied for permanent citizenship via the Birmingham, Alabama district court in 1958. She moved to Birmingham in the late 1950s, where she continued to work as a midwife. She died in July 1977.

In America, as in Germany, Hildegard was a prolific letter writer. She traveled regularly, within and without Germany, her visits often lasting long enough that she would both send and receive correspondence while she was away from home. She carefully saved the correspondence from friends and family, but especially that which she exchanged during the 1920s-1930s with her close friend and long-time love, Hans Albert Silberberg. Hans was a music student, pianist, and composer. He was also a regular traveler, sending Hildegard letters and postcards from wherever he happened to be – including onboard a ship crossing the ocean. He died in 1932, at the age of 25.

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