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Black checked towel embroidered ES saved by German Jewish refugees

Object | Accession Number: 2012.485.7

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    Black checked towel embroidered ES saved by German Jewish refugees

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    Brief Narrative
    Black windowpane checked dish towel monogrammed ES received as a wedding gift by Fritz and Juliane Else Silberschmidt in 1933. It was one of a pair, and they received a matching red set as well. These towels were among the very few items that they were permitted to take with them when they left Nazi Germany for the Netherlands in 1939. The rest of the family's personal and household belongings were confiscated by German authorities. Fritz and Juliane, and Fritz's mother Selma and brother Rudolph fled Cologne in 1939. After Germany invaded Poland that September, even legal emigrants were detained as enemy aliens. Fritz was interned at Zeeburgerdijk quarantine center in Amsterdam. After his release, he and Juliane left for America in January 1940. Fritz's brother Rudolph was murdered in Auschwitz in September 1942. His mother survived in hiding and joined them in the US in 1946.
    received:  1933
    received: Cologne (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Peter Silversmith
    Subject: Fred Silversmith
    Fritz Silberschmidt was born on October 4, 1908, in Bocholt, Germany, to a Jewish couple, Jacob and Selma Berg Silberschmidt. Jacob was a veteran of World War I (1914-1918). Selma was born on November 17, 1884, in Essen. Fritz had a brother, Rudolph, who was born on May 23, 1912. Fritz’s father Jacob died in 1927. In January 1933, Hitler came to power and soon established a Nazi dictatorship that was hostile to Jews. On November 8, Fritz moved to Cologne. Later that year, he married Juliane Else Simon. Juliane was born on September 5, 1909, in Cologne, to Eduard and Dorothea Altman Simon. Eduard was born in Thalfang on January 27, 1873. Dorothea was born in Schrimm (Srem, Poland) on August 31, 1877. In June 1936, Fritz’s mother and brother also moved to Cologne.

    In 1939, Fritz, Juliane, Rudolph, and Selma decided to depart for the Netherlands, leaving behind their extended families. Nazi officials confiscated their personal and household belongings, except for three silver spoons which they were given permission to take with them. In Holland, Fritz was detained in Zeeburgerdijk quarantine center in Amsterdam. This was one of several internment camps for legal refugees that the Dutch established to handle the large influx of people fleeing Nazi rule. Fritz was assigned to make shoes in the camp. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and even legal refugees were subject to internment as enemy aliens. On a visit to the camp, Rudolph told Fritz that he was going to volunteer for a factory job, hoping to protect their mother in case Germany invaded Netherlands. Fritz was eventually released from the internment center. On January 24, 1940, he and Juliane sailed from Rotterdam on the SS Veendam, arriving in New York on February 5. They settled in Boston and Americanized their names to Fred and Juliana Elsa Silversmith. They had a son in 1945. Germany occupied Netherlands in May 1940. In 1942, Juliana received a letter from the Red Cross that said her parents had been deported from Germany to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

    They subsequently learned that Fred’s brother Rudolph was murdered in Auschwitz concentration camp on September 30, 1942. He had been sent to Westerbork transit camp on July 15, 1942, and then deported. Juliana’s parents had been arrested on June 16, 1942, in Cologne by the Gestapo and sent to Theresienstadt. On September 19, 1942, they were deported on transport Bo to Treblinka or Maly Trostenets killing center, and murdered. Fred’s mother Selma survived in hiding in the Netherlands. She joined Fred and Juliana in Boston, sailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, on the SS Gripsholm, and arriving in New York on December 2, 1946. Selma, 79, passed away on February 13, 1964. Fred, 82, died on March 17, 1991. Juliana, 90, died on April 4, 2000.

    Physical Details

    Furnishings and Furniture
    Household linens
    Object Type
    Dish towels (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, discolored, white cotton dish towel with a black windowpane check pattern accented by wide horizontal black stripes near the edges. The initials ES are embroidered in black thread 4 inches from the bottom and a cloth ribbon loop is sewn to the back top edge.
    overall: Height: 30.250 inches (76.835 cm) | Width: 23.375 inches (59.373 cm)
    overall : cloth, thread
    front, bottom, embroidered, black thread : ES [Else Silberschmidt]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The towel was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014 by Peter Silversmith.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-08 06:54:02
    This page:

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