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Gold link chain necklace received by a refugee in a displaced persons camp upon the birth of her daughter

Object | Accession Number: 2008.198.3

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    Gold link chain necklace received by a refugee in a displaced persons camp upon the birth of her daughter

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    Brief Narrative
    Necklace given to Bronia Kirsch in 1946 on the occasion of the birth of her daughter, Sarah, while she was living in the displaced persons camp in Ansbach, Germany. She met and married Morris Kirsch, also a displaced person from Poland, in 1945 in Feldafing, Germany. The family emigrated to the United States in 1950.
    received:  1946
    received: Ansbach (Displaced persons camp); Ansbach (Mittelfranken, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sarah Kirsch
    Subject: Bernice Kirsch
    Subject: Morris Kirsch
    Subject: Sarah Kirsch
    Bronia Bergman was born in Poland in 1917 or 1918. In 1945, following the end of World War II, she was a displaced person in Feldafing, Germany, where she met and married Morris Kirsch, who was also a displaced person born in Poland. They were then housed as displaced persons in Ansbach, Germany. They had a daughter, Sarah, in 1946. In 1950, the family emigrated to the United States. The Kirches had two more children, Albert and Rosalie. Bronia, who had Americanized her name to Bernice, died, age 56, July 23, 1973.
    Moshe Kirsch was born on March 28, 1913, in Rachowa, a town of approximately 500 in the Kielce Gubernia district of Poland. A close-knit community of about 100 Jews lived in a separate section of town. Moshe’s parents were Sarah and Zadic. Moshe was the middle child of five. He had two brothers, Isaac and Naftoli, and two sisters, Tova and Rachel. Aunts, uncles, and cousins also lived in the town. Moshe’s father was a third-generation tailor. The family did piecework for a local garment mill. They lived in one room, which also served as their work room. The family was poor and struggled to have enough food. They saved all week to have a Sabbath meal on Friday night of challah and fish. A public school was available, but Moshe’s father wanted him to have a religious education in a Jewish heder instead. When Moshe became Bar Mitzvah at age 13, his education ended. In 1938, the family moved to Łódź but had trouble finding work and lived in one room there as well. Moshe was active in political organizations, including a Socialist group. He moved to Oberschlesien near the German border to try to make his own living, but soon returned to Łódź.

    In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Moshe went to Warsaw to help defend the city. He helped dig trenches and build barricades. After the city fell and Germany occupied Poland, the Polish men who had come to Warsaw from Łódź to defend the city were marched by German soldiers back to Łódź. Moshe was not recognized as a Jew, so he was marched with them. The anti-Semitism that was already common in Poland was becoming more extreme. On his way back to Łódź from Warsaw, Moshe witnessed a Jewish man, distinctive because of his orthodox religious garb, beaten to death by a Polish mob. In 1940, the Germans established the Łódź ghetto in the poor Jewish neighborhood on the north side of the city, where Moshe’s family already lived. By this time, Moshe’s brother, Isaac, had married and had a daughter. Moshe’s sister, Tova, was also married and had two daughters. Moshe and other family members worked for the Germans in a factory making military uniforms. They received ration cards that provided them with more food than they had been able to afford before the ghetto was established. Moshe’s brother Naftoli got married in the ghetto and had one child who was born there. In 1943, Moshe was deported from the Łódź ghetto to the Skarzysko-Kamienna forced labor camp, where he worked in a factory making bullets. He never saw his family again.

    Morris was housed a mile from the factory. 50 inmates lived in a barrack with hard platforms for sleeping and no blankets. Food rations consisted of a watery vegetable soup and a quarter pound of bread. Jewish guards known as kapos treated the inmates with cruelty and withheld food capriciously. In 1944, as the Soviet army moved across Poland, the Germans evacuated the Skarzysko-Kamienna camp westward to the Czestochowa forced labor camp, where Moshe was again put to work in an ammunitions factory. Here, the kapos withheld food from the inmates to supplement their own food rations, allowing some inmates to starve to death.

    In January 1945, the Germans packed thousands of the laborers, including Moshe, into railroad freight cars, and transported them to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. The transport took two weeks and many on board perished. At the camp, many inmates died of the cold each night, and more fell dead from the cold each day while standing outdoors in rows during long roll calls. Moshe was among the inmates who were put to work in the nearby city of Weimar, clearing rubble from Allied bombings. It seemed to Moshe that the German guards were demoralized by the course of the war, and thus did not stop the workers from salvaging food and other items to take back to the camp. On April 6, 1945, the Germans took Moshe and other inmates on a death march that lasted 22 days. They arrived at Dachau concentration camp on April 28, only hours before the camp was liberated by the United States Army.

    Moshe initially recuperated in Saint Ottilien near Munich. From May to December, 1945, he lived in the displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany, where he met and married Bronia Bergman, also a displaced person from Poland. During that time, he learned that his family had perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He and Bronia were housed as displaced persons in Ansbach, Germany. Instead of living in a DP camp, they were given rooms in the home of a German family. In 1946, Morris and Bronia had a daughter, Sarah. In 1950, the family emigrated to the United States, sponsored by the Congregation of Moses in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Kirsches had two more children, born in the 1950s, Albert and Rosalie. Moshe, who had Americanized his name to Morris, died, age 89, March 22, 2002.
    Sarah Kirsch was born in 1946 in Ansbach, Germany. Her parents were Bronia (Bernice, nee Bergman, b. 1918) and Moshe (Morris, b. 1913). Sarah’s parents had met in 1945 in the Feldafing displaced persons camp, and had married there. At the time of Sarah’s birth, the Kirsches were being housed as displaced persons in the home of a German family in Ansbach. The Kirsches emigrated to the United States in 1950. Sarah has two siblings, Albert and Rosalie, both born in America in the 1950s.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Necklaces (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Chain made of flat gold-colored metal links. There is no clasp, but seem to be markings on end.
    overall: Height: 30.620 inches (77.775 cm) | Width: 0.630 inches (1.6 cm)
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The necklace was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2008 by Sarah Kirsch, the daughter of Bronia and Morris Kirsch.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-31 10:16:12
    This page:

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