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Pocket knife used by a Polish Jewish female slave laborer

Object | Accession Number: 1990.220.2

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    Pocket knife used by a Polish Jewish female slave laborer

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    Brief Narrative
    Jack knife made from materials salvaged from a saw and airplane parts made by Yona Wygocka circa November 1944 when she was a slave laborer in an ammunition factory in Freiburg, Germany. She had been sent there from Auschwitz concentration camp. . She used the knife to cut her daily portion of bread which she shared with her aunt.
    creation:  1944 November
    use: slave labor factory; Freiburg (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Yona Wygocka Dickmann
    Subject: Yona Dickmann
    Yona Wygocka was born on March 15, 1928, in Pabianice, Poland, to Natan and Rifka Wygocka. She was the eldest of four children in a working class Jewish family. They were a closeknit extended family and many relatives lived nearby. Her father Natan sold goods to Polish shops, often on a barter system where he traded his merchandise for food. After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, the Jewish section of Pabianice, where Yona's family lived, was made into a ghetto. Food was very scarce. The Germans made weekly searches where they seized valuables and other belongings from Jewish homes. Next, the Germans began seizing people for forced labor service. In May 1942, the ghetto was liquidated. Yona's mother, brother, and youngest sister were sent to Chelmno killing center and murdered. Yona, her father, and her sister Bluma, 10, were sent to Łódź Ghetto. Yona, then12, and her younger sister were made to work in a factory sewing clothes. There were frequent aktions when people were taken away and deported, and the girls would hide at those times. In August 1944, they were found and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp, along with their aunt Hela. Her sister was sent to the gas chambers and killed. Yona was transferred to work in an airplane factory in Germany. When the Allies began bombing the region, the camp was evacuated. The inmates were taken by train ot Mauthausen. Ten days later, on May 5, 1945, they were liberated by American troops of the 11th Armored Division. With the help of Jewish Brigade members, Yona and Hela got to Italy, where they prepared to emigrate to Palestine. After six moths, they left Italy by ship for Palestine, where they had three uncles, Chaim, Tal, and Avram. Yona settled in Tel Aviv where she met Isaac Dickmann, a fellow survivor from Poland. The couple married in 1948. They immigrated to the United States in 1959 and settled in Washington DC.

    Physical Details

    Tools and Equipment
    Cutting tools
    Object Type
    Pocketknives (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Jack knife made of aluminum airplane parts and part of a saw. It has a silver colored metal blade attached with a nut and bolt. The blade is stuck partially open.
    overall: Height: 3.875 inches (9.843 cm) | Width: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    overall : aluminum, metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The knife was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1990 by Yona Wygocka Dickmann.
    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:
    2023-09-05 11:04:30
    This page:

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