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Wedding gown with green embroidery worn by Raya Kirschner Feig in Barletta DP camp

Object | Accession Number: 2008.393.1

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    Wedding gown with green embroidery worn by Raya Kirschner Feig in Barletta DP camp

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Wedding dress with green, thread embroidery worn by Raya Kirschner (later Feig), 19, for her May 27, 1948, wedding to Micky Feig, 22, in Barletta displaced persons camp in Italy. In August 1941, after Germany invaded Lithuania, Raya was interned with her father Meyer, a rabbi, her mother, who ran an orphanage, and her brother Beno in the Kovno ghetto. In October 1942, her father was selected for deportation to Riga, Latvia,and Raya's mother insisted the family go also. They were placed in Spilve camp and Raya, Meyer, and Beno were assigned to hard physical labor. In 1943, Beno was caught smuggling and sent to Kaiserwald; the family never saw him again. In July 1944, Raya and her parents were sent to Stutthof. A month later, her father was sent to Dachau where he perished. Raya and Sonia were sent to Elbing, and then were liberated on a death march in January 1945. After the war ended in May 1945, they went to Bad Gastein displaced persons camp camp in Germany where Raya met Miklos (Micky). He had been interned in Auschwitz and Dachau-Allach concentration camps, and was the only surviving member of his family. All three left for America in September 1949.
    Date
    use:  1948 May 27
    Geography
    use: Barletta (Displaced persons camp); Barletta (Italy)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Raya Feig
    Markings
    zipper pull tab and slider, engraved : TALON
    Contributor
    Subject: Raya Feig
    Biography
    Raya Kirschner (later Feig) was born on May 21, 1929, in Bialystok, Poland, to Rabbi Meir Leib and Shaindel (Sonia) Denenberg Kirschner. She had an older brother Ben-Zion (Beno), born in 1925 in Papile, Lithuania. The family lived in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. Her father was born in 1895 in Papile to Ben Zion and Rasha Rutenberg Kirshner. Rabbi Kirschner was the director of the Hebrew Gymnasium in Nejsztat Tawrik. He also served as rabbi in Memel, Kelm, and Slobodka, across the river from Kovno. Her mother Shaindel was born on November 8, 1903, in Bialystok, Russia (later Poland) to Oszer, who died in 1922, and Rachel, who died in 1920. Shaindel managed Bet Yetomi Jewish orphanage and the family lived next door. Raya attended the Orthodox Yavneh School where she was taught in Hebrew. In 1939, Raya’s father accepted a rabbinical position in England. His family was to join him there, but Raya became seriously ill and Rabbi Kirschner returned.

    In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania. Jewish and other religious organizations were closed and property was appropriated by the state. Raya’s school had to quit teaching Hebrew, but began teaching Yiddish. In June 1941, Germany launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. The invasion of Lithuania was accompanied by pogroms carried out by the local population, often assisting German mobile killing squads, in which thousands of Jews were murdered. In August, Raya and her family were forced to move to a ghetto in Slobodka, a suburb of Kovno. The Kirschner’s lived in the Small Ghetto. The children from the Jewish orphanage remained with them as Shaindel intended to reestablish the orphanage. On October 4, the Germans ordered all the residents of the Small Ghetto to assemble. About 2000 Jews were taken away and murdered. Raya, her family, and one of the older girls, Nehama Smilg, who said she was a family member, were not selected. After the selection, they were ordered to move to the Large Ghetto. Shaindel was permitted to return to their home a few days later to retrieve some belongings. She also smuggled out five orphans. On October 28, the Germans again ordered the residents to assemble. In what became known as the Great Aktion, nearly 10,000 Jews, including the orphans Shaindel had tried to save, were taken to the Ninth Fort and murdered. Raya, her father, and Beno were assigned to hard physical labor at a new German airport outside the city.

    A year later, on October 20-22, 1942, Raya’s father was deported to Riga, Latvia. Her mother did not want the family to separate and insisted that they all go with him. After one week in Riga ghetto, they were sent to Spilve labor camp outside the city. In 1943, Beno was caught trying to smuggle goods into the ghetto and was transferred to nearby Kaiserwald concentration camp. In July 1944, Raya and her parents were deported via Panevezys and Siauliai, to Stutthof concentration camp in Poland. Men and women were separated. Raya remained with her mother. In August, her father, with a close friend, Israel Kaplan, a teacher and writer, was sent to another camp. In August, Raya and her mother were transferred to Elbing slave labor camp, a Stuffhof subcamp in Germany. The camp was evacuated in January 1945 as Soviet troops approached. Raya and her mother were liberated during a death march by the Red Army on January 21 near Neustadt. Raya and her mother went to Bialystok. The war ended with Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945. In October, with the assistance of Bricha, a Zionist organization that helped Jewish persons illegally travel around Eastern Europe and to Palestine, Raya and Shaindel went to Bad Gastein displaced persons camp in Austria. They learned that Raya’s father had perished in Dachau concentration camp in Germany in December 1944. Beno had also perished in a camp. In Bad Gastein, Raya met Miklos (Micky) Feig. Micky was born June 26, 1926, near Tirgu-Mures, Transylvania, Romania, to Emanuel and Regina Lucatser Feig. He had been imprisoned in Auschwitz and Dachau-Allach concentration camps, and was the only member of his family to survive. In July 1947, again with the aid of Bricha, they traveled illegally to Milan, Italy. Around December, they relocated to the Barletta dp camp, where Raya and Micky married on May 27, 1948. Raya, Micky, and Shaindel sailed on the General Ballou to the United States on September 1, 1949. The couple settled in Brooklyn, New York. Shaindel, now Sonia, 61, passed away in 1964. Micky, 81, passed away on April 17, 2007.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Clothing and Dress
    Category
    Women's clothing
    Object Type
    Wedding dresses (aat)
    Genre/Form
    Dresses.
    Physical Description
    Offwhite crepe cloth gown with a short sleeved, draped blouse, fitted waist, and a flowing, pleated floor-length skirt. It has a pointed collar and no front fasteners. There is a curved slash pocket on each side and two thread loops at the waist for a now missing sash. A floral and scrollwork, green, thread design, with clear and silver-colored glass bead accents, is hand sewn along both sides, curving outward from the shoulder and then inward near the hips to trim the pocket edges. There is a white zipper on the right side, from underarm to hip. Seams and hems are machine sewn.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 53.250 inches (135.255 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cloth, thread, metal, glass

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Lithuania Italy

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The wedding dress was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2008 by Raya Feig.
    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:
    2023-08-02 13:15:17
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn34862

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