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Ellen T. Meth papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 1999.158

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    Contains 12 photographs and ten photographic postcards relating to donor's experiences before and after World War II.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ellen T. Meth
    Collection Creator
    Ellen T. Meth
    Ellen Meth (born Edwarda Tuska Wang) was born to Szymon and Emilia Wang in Kraków, Poland on January 27, 1923, but grew up in Rzeszow, Poland where her father was a wealthy landowner and lumber exporter. After the Polish government confiscated foreign currency reserves, in either 1937 or 1938, Szymon decided to illegally transfer some of his assets to the United States. To do this he needed to come to the United States to invest the money, and he decided to obtain tourist visas to the 1939 New York World's Fair as a cover. However, Emilia, believing America to be uncultured and crime-ridden, refused to go. Ellen, therefore, accompanied her father instead, and Emilia never obtained an American visa. Shortly after the start of the war in autumn 1939, the family moved to Lvov. Szymon searched for a way to leave the Soviet Union, and was able to obtain exit visas because the American tourist visas were still valid until June 14, 1940. Szymon did not want to travel without Emilia, but she convinced him to leave in order to get Ellen out of the country, and it would be easier for him to help Emilia once the rest of the family was living elsewhere. Emilia remained in Lvov, and with their American visas, Ellen and Szymon left for Turkey in July 1940.

    Szymon was determined do find a way to bring Emilia out of Europe as well and to find a final destination for himself and Ellen. By sheer coincidence, he ran into a Polish friend who told him that the Brazilian government was offering 10,000 visas to proven Polish Roman Catholics. He suggested that they obtain baptismal certificates, and that he would vouch for them at the Polish consulate. On the basis of a false affidavit of a Catholic friend, in July 1940 the Polish Consul in Istanbul issued the certificates stating the Ellen and her father were good Roman Catholics. Szymon, in turn, later vouched for other Jewish friends who also got certificates in this manner. Emilia, meanwhile, remained in Lvov and was forced to accept Russian citizenship, which barred her from leaving the country.

    After various attempts, Szymon managed to obtain Nicaraguan citizenship papers from the Nicaraguan consul in Istanbul. He petitioned the Soviet government to allow Emilia to rejoin her husband and sent a new Nicaraguan passport to her in Lvov. Meanwhile, Szymon and Ellen went from Istanbul to Bombay, India and then to Kobe, Japan. They sailed to the United States in June 1941 aboard the SS Hie Maru while Emilia continued to live as a foreign national. Ellen and Szymon received their final communication from Emilia in April 1943 saying that she was lonely, but otherwise well. They later learned that on the basis of her Nicaraguan passport she was sent to the International Camp of Bergen-Belsen in July 1943 supposedly for a prisoner exchange. Instead, she was deported to Auschwitz in October 1943 where she perished.

    Physical Details

    1 folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The Museum is in the process of determining the possible use restrictions that may apply to material(s) in this collection.

    Administrative Notes

    Donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1999 by Ms. Ellen T. Meth
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-12 10:02:38
    This page:

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