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Pince-nez with black cord given to a Jewish American soldier by survivors of the Łódź ghetto

Object | Accession Number: 2007.475.5

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    Pince-nez with black cord given to a Jewish American soldier by survivors of the Łódź ghetto

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Clip-on eyeglasses given to 24 year-old Bernard Kupferman, a Jewish American soldier, by a Polish Jew named Edward, whom he met in Łódź, Poland, on February 17, 1945. Bernard was recently liberated from a German prisoner-of-war (POW) camp and was walking through Poland with a group of fellow former POWs trying to find a way home. They met Edward and a group of Jewish survivors of the Łódź ghetto who gave Bernard a siddur, a Jewish prayer book, that had the names of the group members inscribed in the back. The book also contained a pair of pince-nez glasses that had belonged to a female associate who had been killed by the Germans. The group met regularly to share information and gave the siddur to Bernard because they wanted to be remembered. The Łódź ghetto was destroyed by the Germans in the spring of 1944 and all the inhabitants had been deported to concentration camps. Bernard was a sergeant in the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division of the United States Army. While crossing the Meuse River in Belgium on September 5, 1944, Bernard and his battalion were attacked and he was wounded and captured by the Germans. He was imprisoned in Stalag IIIC in Kustrin, Germany, and liberated by Soviet forces in January 1945. He and his fellow prisoners walked from Kustrin to Poland, and then to the Ukraine. A high ranking U.S. Army officer heard about the soldiers and arranged for them to be taken to a resort. In March/April, following their recuperation, they were sent home to the United States.
    Date
    received:  1945
    Geography
    received: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Bernard and Sylvia Kupferman
    Contributor
    Subject: Bernard Kupferman
    Biography
    Bernard Kupferman (1921-2008) was born in the Bronx section of New York City. He joined the Army in 1940 and was stationed with the 16th Infantry Regiment on Governor’s Island, New York. A few months later he was shipped to Germany as a sergeant in the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. He landed in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was wounded June 16 but recovered and rejoined his unit. On September 5, 1944, the Germans bombed Bernard’s outfit as they crossed the Meuse River in Belgium. Bernard was wounded, captured, and forced on a three day march to a temporary labor camp. As a non-commissioned officer he did not have to work, but the Germans subjected him to hours of interrogation. He revealed nothing except his name, rank, and serial number. Next, the Germans forced their prisoners on another three day march, stopping once to provide them with a small box of food and water. They were crowded into boxcars for a three day train ride to camp 12A in Lindenberg, Germany, where they stayed for a week before the Germans transferred them to their final destination, Stalag IIIC in Kustrin, Germany. Food at the camp consisted of a fifth of a loaf of black bread and bean or rutabaga soup filled with bugs. Not able to eat the food provided, Bernard made soup from the grass growing along the camp fence. The American Red Cross sent care packages every three weeks and these packages, containing spam, coffee, biscuits, and cigarettes, kept Bernard alive. He did not smoke and traded the cigarettes for bread.
    A Russian armored division liberated the camp on January 31, 1945. The Russians told the American that they could not help them as they were driving west into Germany. They left the Americans on the side of the road without food, water, or weapons and with the advice to walk in the opposite direction. Bernard and ten others walked to a farmhouse, where they ate well, got clean, and left two days later for the Polish border. On February 27, 1945, he met a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors in Łódź, Poland, who gave him a siddur (prayer book) with their names inside because they wanted to be remembered. From Poland, the Americans traveled to the Ukraine where a high ranking U.S. Army officer in Moscow heard about their arrival and had them relocated to a resort area. They stayed there until heading to Odessa, U.S.S.R. in March 1945, where they were put on a ship to Naples, Italy, then back to the U.S. in April.
    Bernard was discharged shortly after returning home. He was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, an American Defense Medal, and a European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. He learned the printing trade and worked as a pressman in New York City where he married Sylvia in 1947. In 1966 they moved to Maryland and Bernard worked at the Government Printing Office until his retirement. Sylvia and Bernard had two daughters.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Pince-nez (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Eyeglasses consisting of 2 oval glass lenses in a silver colored wire frame with a rounded bridge. There is a round hinge on the outer edge of each frame but no temple or ear pieces. There is a black cord with center and end knots attached to the right temple hinge.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 1.120 inches (2.845 cm) | Width: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Depth: 0.120 inches (0.305 cm)
    Materials
    overall : glass, metal, nylon

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The pince-nez was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Bernard and Sylvia Kupferman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-10-04 11:20:20
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn34864

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