Skip to main content

Henri Landwirth Papers

Identifier: MSS 0438

Scope and Content

The items in the collection reflect Landwirth’s wide-ranging activities as a businessman, hotelier, and philanthropist. Some of the family photographs and photographs taken with friends reveal his affectionate relationships with loved ones. The folder titles, such as publications relating to the space program, Holocaust and memory, philanthropy, speeches and addresses in box I, reflect his main activities. There is also a folder covering his hotelier business. The Holocaust and memory folder houses his reparation claims documentation and flyers of Holocaust remembrance events as well. In addition to the photographs held in a separate folder in this box (of special note are photographs of Astronaut John Glenn), additional, larger photographs removed from their original frames are housed in box II. The large scrapbook in box III, the albums and scrapbooks housed in boxes IV and V and the materials in the oversize folder held in box II reflect the fact that Landwirth and his family diligently documented his work and its reception. Two boxes hold the various awards and honors Landwirth was given throughout the years.

Attached to the folders in box I is W. Halamandaris’s Profiles in caring: the most caring people in America, which features Henri Landwirth and the DVD Gift of Life in America.


  • Creation: 1958 - 2017



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Henri Landwirth was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1927. At the age of 13 he was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp and in the course of the war, he was transferred to several other concentration camps, Mauthausen included. While he and his twin sister, Margot Landwirth Glazer, from whom he was separated during the deportation, were liberated at the end of the war, their parents did not survive the Holocaust. Landwirth immigrated to the US. He served in the Korean War and thanks to the G. I. Bill, and having learnt English, he could take a course in hotel management. During the nights, he worked in a hotel in Manhattan. He moved to Florida in 1954 to manage the Starlight Hotel in Cocoa Beach, which accommodated the needs of the growing space program in Florida. In 1969, he opened his first Holiday Inn franchise, which catered to the audiences at the developing entertainment park business around Orlando.

An equally engaged philanthropist, Henri Landwirth often said that his experience of surviving the Holocaust urged him to help those in need and to live a life of giving. “You have to give of yourself – not money, but the essence of yourself. That is what makes life meaningful!” he used to argue. Beginning in the 1980s, he offered free rooms for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 1985 he established his first foundation named after his late mother, The Fanny Landwirth Foundation, which offers financial support to ensure shelter, clothing, education, and more for struggling communities and families. Four years later, in 1989, Landwirth opened the Give Kids the World Village in Orlando. This holiday resort hosts children suffering from life-threatening illnesses together with their families. In 2000, after a visit to a homeless shelter, Landwirth established Dignity U Wear, which, until its merger with the charity organization Soles 4 Souls in 2017, had been providing clothing for families in need. Landwirth’s charity work touched the lives of the 160,000 children and families who vacationed at Give Kids the World and many more who were afforded new clothing and other services through his charities. His lasting friendships with former astronaut and Senator John Glenn and with other US astronauts, particularly those of Mercury 7, led him to help establish the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which promises scholarships to promising young science students.

For his excellence in the hotel business, for his philanthropy, and for his work as an activist for the continuing memorialization of the Holocaust and its victims – among them his parents, Henri Landwirth was awarded many honors and awards. Mother Theresa and John Paul II sent him their blessings; he was named one of the twelve Most Caring Individuals in America by the Caring Institute, and he was invited twice to carry the Olympic Torch.

Henri Landwirth’s life was the subject of a biography by W. Halamandaris, Love & Hate: The Story of Henri Landwirth (2007), and his life experiences were featured in the documentary films, Borrowing Time (2006) and Loving Henri (2016) directed by Robert Allen Black.


2.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



Photographs, speeches, scrapbooks, and memorabilia belonging to Holocaust survivor, businessman, hotelier, and philanthropist Henri Landwirth.


This collection is arranged in chronological and thematic order.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The collection is a donation of Henri Landwirth’s children: Gary Landwirth, Greg Landwirth and Lisa Ullman.

Related Materials

Digital reproductions of items still in possession of the Landwirth family are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

A Guide to the Henri Landwirth Collection
Finding aid created by Kati Rac
September 2018
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America