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Tortoiseshell pencil box and lid carried by a Kindertransport refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2006.492.3 a-b

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    Tortoiseshell pencil box and lid carried by a Kindertransport refugee

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    Brief Narrative
    Plastic pencil box carried by 10-year-old Ina Felczer on a Kindertransport [Children's Transport] to Leeds, England, in late June 1939. Before the war, Ina lived with her parents, Victor and Hannah, in Berlin, Germany. Both were Polish Jews who had lived in Berlin since the 1920s. Victor was a chemist, and Hannah co-owned a dressmaking shop. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, and authorities throughout Germany quickly began suppressing the rights of Jews and boycotting their businesses. In the late 1930’s, Victor lost his job, and Hannah’s shop was destroyed by the authorities, though she continued to operate it from their home. In 1938, Victor was deported to Poland. In 1939, Hannah registered Ina for a Kindertransport, which arrived in England on June 30. Three days after Ina left, Hannah was deported to Poznan, Poland. In England, Ina lived with Vera and Sol Fischer in Leeds, before being evacuated to Harmston with other children to avoid the dangers of German air raids and bombings on cities. Eventually, Ina was moved to a girl’s hostel in Harrogate where she lived until 1945, when the war ended and it closed. Both of Ina's parents, her maternal grandparents, and many relatives perished in the Holocaust. In June 1946, Ina immigrated to the United States to live with her aunt in New Jersey.
    use:  1939-1945
    emigration:  1939 June
    use: Great Britain
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ina Felczer
    Subject: Ina Felczer
    Ina Felczer (b.1929) was born in Berlin, Germany, to Hannah (Hana, née Kempinski, 1894-?) and Victor Awigdor (1892 -?) Felczer. Hannah was born in Kalisz, Poland, to Golda (née Ostrowsky) and Judah Kempinski. Victor was born in Przystajnia (near Błaszki), Poland, to Ester (née Shvartz) and Abraham Leib Felczer. Both Hannah and Victor moved to Berlin in the 1920s; Victor was a chemist and Hannah co-owned a dressmaking shop. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, and authorities throughout the country quickly began suppressing the rights of Jews and boycotting their businesses. Hannah was very protective of Ina, and often reminded her to avoid conspicuous behavior because it was risky with the escalation of anti-Jewish laws in Germany.

    In the late 1930’s, Hannah’s shop was destroyed by the authorities. Despite this, she continued to operate the business out of the family's home, along with her partner, Mrs. Berliner, and two hired, German seamstresses. Due to the increased Aryanization efforts and the passage of more anti-Jewish legislation, Victor lost his job in 1938. Occasionally, Victor secured work as a house painter, which he had to keep quiet so the seamstresses would not find out and tell the authorities. Later that year, Victor was deported to his native Poland. In 1939, Hannah registered Ina for the Kindertransport [Children’s Transport], a rescue mission to save Jewish children. The registration was managed by Bloomsbury House, a group of Jewish aid societies in Great Britain. Ina arrived in Great Britain on June 30, having left her mother behind in Berlin. Three days after Ina left, Hannah was arrested and deported to Poznan, Poland. Hannah’s brother, Froim (Efraim), lived in Poznan with his wife, Yetka, and their son, Fishel.

    Once in England, Ina was cared for by Vera and Sol Fischer, a Jewish couple in Leeds. Ina was placed in a local elementary school, and worked hard to learn a new language and culture. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and two days later Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. In response to this declaration, many children were evacuated from major urban centers in Great Britain. Ina was first evacuated to Lincolnshire. Then she was sent to Harmston, where she held a newly issued gas mask, a tin of condensed milk, and a chocolate bar in her lap in the village hall while waiting for adults to come get her. Ina was placed in the home of some local farmers. Later, she got lice and moved to Christian couple’s home. At some point in 1940, Ina returned to the Fischers’ care in Leeds. Beginning in the fall, several air raids made Leeds a dangerous place to be. Additionally, Vera had bad arthritis and could not handle all of the extra work associated with caring for a child, so Ina was sent to live in a girl’s hostel in the nearby town of Harrogate. Ina lived at the hostel for five years, until it closed in 1945. Ina had some family members in England, but chose to move in with Vera’s brother after the hostel closed. Germany surrendered in May 1945, ending the war in Europe.

    On June 8, 1946, Ina boarded the S.S. Drottningholm in Liverpool, England and sailed to the United States, arriving eight days later in New York City. She went to live with her aunt in New Jersey, where she finished high school, found work, and attended night courses for college. She became a US citizen in April 1952, and three months later, she boarded a ship to England. She lived in Paris, France, working as a librarian, for 17 months before returning to the US in 1954.

    After the war, Ina learned that much of her family had been killed during the Holocaust. Ina’s father, Victor, had been transported to the Warsaw ghetto sometime after his deportation to Poland. Ina’s mother, Hannah, and her grandmother, Golda, were transported to the Warsaw ghetto between September 1939 and October 1940. Ina’s grandfather, Judah, was likely deported to Warsaw as well. The last records for Victor, Hannah, and Golda indicate that they were in the ghetto on October 26, 1940. In an effort to make Poznań Judenrein [free of Jews], German authorities had deported most of the Jews in that community, including Ina’s relatives that lived there, to Warsaw, Łódź, Ostrów Lubelski, or other towns in the Generalgouvernement region of German-occupied Poland. Ina’s uncle, Froim, was transported to the Łódź ghetto, and later killed. Froim, his wife, Yetka, and their son, Fischel, were among Ina’s many relatives who were killed during the Holocaust.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Plastic boxes (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    a. Rectangular, plastic, tortoiseshell box with metal hinges for a lid that is no longer attached.
    b. Rectangular, plastic, tortoiseshell lid with a beveled edge, a piece of repair tape, and paint splatter.
    a: Height: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm) | Width: 8.500 inches (21.59 cm) | Depth: 3.625 inches (9.208 cm)
    b: Height: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm) | Width: 8.750 inches (22.225 cm) | Depth: 3.875 inches (9.843 cm)
    a : plastic, metal
    b : plastic, pressure-sensitive tape, paint

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The pencil box was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Ina Felczer.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-15 06:34:53
    This page:

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