Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research

Login

Register

Help

Skip to main content

Decorated porcelain teacup saved by a German Jewish prewar refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2008.204.2

Search this record's additional resources, such as finding aids, documents, or transcripts.

No results match this search term.
Check spelling and try again.

results are loading

0 results found for “keyward

    Decorated porcelain teacup saved by a German Jewish prewar refugee

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Meissen, ivy-patterned teacup brought with Gertrude Wiesenthal when she emigrated from Berlin, Germany. In March 1939, Gertrude joined her husband, Fritz, and daughters, Illa and Nellie, in the United States. The teacup bears the Meissen, crossed swords maker’s mark and the number 44 beneath, which may be a date stamp indicating it was produced in 1844. Pieces bearing the ivy pattern are often accented with gold lines, and the lack of those here may suggest that this is a factory second, which Gertrude enjoyed acquiring. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. Following the passage of the Nuremberg laws in 1935, Gertrude’s husband, a doctor, began looking for places where the family could immigrate because life was becoming increasingly difficult for Jews in Germany. Later that year, Gertrude and Fritz sent Illa to boarding school in England. When Nellie was no longer allowed to attend public school, she moved to her grandmother Ernestine’s home in order to attend a Jewish school nearby. Eventually, Jews were no longer able to practice medicine, and the family needed to emigrate. In 1938, Fritz left for the US in order to make living arrangements for his family and begin studying for the medical boards he needed to pass in order to practice medicine. He sent for Illa in August 1938, and Nellie arrived in the US escorted by a governess in January 1939. Later in the year, Ernestine arrived in London, England. In late 1942, Ernestine joined her family in the US.
    Date
    emigration:  1939 March
    manufacture:  1815-1924
    Geography
    acquired: Berlin (Germany)
    manufacture: Meissen (Germany : Landkreis)
    en route: New York (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Nellie Fink
    Markings
    base, underside, maker's mark, painted, blue glaze : crossed swords above 44
    Contributor
    Subject: Gertrude Wiesenthal
    Subject: Nellie Fink
    Manufacturer: Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen
    Biography
    Gertrude Loewenberg (1898-1986, later Wiesenthal) was born in Berlin, Germany, to an assimilated Jewish family. Gertrude’s father, Caesar, had been in the import-export business. Gertrude’s father died young, and her mother, Anna, later married Josef Lehman, a religion teacher. She had two brothers, Walter, a physician, and Fritz, a businessman. In 1920, Gertrude married Fritz Wiesenthal (1893-?), a physician, and they had two daughters, Illa (b. 1921, later Ilse), and Nellie (b.1930, later Fink). Gertrude’s family lived very comfortably. She suffered from an obsessive compulsive neurosis that made her fear she might get her children sick because she thought that she was carrying diseases like polio, meningitis and scarlet fever. This condition controlled much of her life, and she often spent her days washing and cleaning items over and over. She was often away in sanatoriums due to her condition, and when Nellie was very young, Gertrude began living apart from the family much of the time.

    In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor, and by that spring, anti-Jewish legislation was in effect. The Nuremburg Race Laws were enacted in 1935, and life for Jews in Germany became increasingly difficult and dangerous. In 1935, Fritz and Gertrude sent their eldest daughter, Illa, to boarding school in England. Soon after, their youngest daughter, Nellie, was no longer permitted to attend public school and she was enrolled in the Goldschmidt School. This school was closer to the home of her paternal grandmother, Ernestine (1873-1947, née Unger), so Nellie moved in with her. German insurance and social security payments to Jews were no longer authorized, which sent Gertrude’s husband’s medical practice into decline. Eventually, Jews were no longer able to practice medicine, and Fritz had to seriously consider emigration. In the spring of 1938, Fritz visited Illa in Brussels, Belgium, on his way to the US. He settled in New York, and lived with Gertrude’s brother while studying for the required medical exams. After finishing school in England, Illa had moved there to study at a convent school, St. Dorothe. She focused on learning French, as well as secretarial and domestic skills, because her father felt that she would need to be able to make her own living once they got to the United States.

    Fritz arrived in New York on April 14, and lived with Gertrude’s, brother, Walter Loewenberg, and his wife, Annemarie, both physicians who had left Germany at the end of 1935. At that time, German doctors could practice medicine in New York without taking the medical board exams. That was changed in 1937, partly due to the large influx of refugees and concerns regarding competition for patients. This meant that Fritz had to study and retrain for the exams. Several months later, Fritz sent for Illa who arrived in the US on August 12. In September, Nellie, who was still living with her grandmother in Berlin, was sent to Switzerland with her aunt, Helene Meyer (1892-?, née Wiesenthal), and her three cousins, Eva, Peter, and Angelika. Ernestine could not leave because she was not able to acquire the necessary papers. Helene and the children stayed in a hotel in the town of Horv-Winkel. Helene and her family planned to travel to the United States via Cuba where they would have to wait for entry permits for the US. Fritz did not want Nellie to make that journey, so she was placed in a children’s home in Lucerne until the arrangements for her journey to New York were finalized. In late 1938, a family friend, Frau Kehrli, arrived at the children’s home to take 8-year-old Nellie to Paris, France, and then on to Cherbourg. Nellie boarded the SS Deutschland, along with a governess hired by her family. The ship arrived on January 28, 1939, and Nellie was reunited with her father in New York. In March, Gertrude arrived in New York. Her older daughter, Illa, lived with an American family as an au pair and had a day job as a secretary. Her younger daughter, Nellie, stayed with Walter and Annemarie. Later on, Nellie went to live with several different family friends and acquaintances throughout New York City and on Long Island, and briefly in Florida with Helene. Fritz, worked as an ambulance doctor, and lived at St. John’s Hospital in Brooklyn while he studied for the board exams.

    In late 1939, Gertrude’s mother-in-law, Ernestine, immigrated to London, England, where she lived until 1942, when she finally received immigration papers to join her family in the US. Fritz passed the medical exams that year and established a private ophthalmological practice. Soon Fritz, Ernestine, and the girls were living comfortably and in the same home for the first time in years, in the apartment above his office. However, Gertrude continued to live apart from the family due to her medical condition. Eventually Gertrude’s daughters completed school, attended college, and married.
    Nellie Wiesenthal (b. 1930, later Fink) was born in Berlin, Germany, to father, Fritz (1893-?) and Gertrude Loewenberg (1898-1986) Wiesenthal. Both sides of her family were assimilated and had lived in Berlin for several generations. Her father was a medical doctor, like his father, Otto (1859-1930), and grandfather, and specialized in Ophthalmology. His mother, Ernestine (1873-1947, née Unger) stayed at home. The family had an estate, Cartlow, several hours from Berlin where they often went for vacations. Gertrude’s father, Caesar, had been in the import-export business. He died young, and Gertrude’s mother, Anna, later married Josef Lehman. Nellie had one older sister, Illa (b. 1921, later Ilse). Their mother, Gertrude, suffered from an obsessive compulsive neurosis that made her fear she might get her children sick because she thought that she was carrying diseases like polio, meningitis, and scarlet fever. This condition controlled much of her life, and she often spent her days washing and cleaning items repetitively. She was often away in sanatoriums due to her condition, and when Nellie was very young, her mother began living apart from the family.

    In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor, and by that spring, anti-Jewish legislation was in effect. The Nuremburg laws were enacted in 1935, and life for Jews in Germany became extremely difficult and dangerous. That year, Nellie’s father, Fritz, and grandmother, Ernestine, took a trip to Palestine in search of a safe place to live. Eventually, Fritz decided that it would be better to resettle in the United States because they had family there. In 1935, Illa was sent to boarding school in England. In 1936, Nellie was forced out of public school and enrolled in the Goldschmidt School near her grandmother’s house, so she went to live with her. German insurance and social security payments to Jews were no longer authorized, which sent her father’s medical practice into decline. Eventually, Jews were no longer able to practice medicine, and Fritz made plans to go to the US. In the spring of 1938, Fritz visited Illa in Brussels, Belgium, on his way to the US. After finishing school in England, Illa had moved there to study at a convent school, St. Dorothe. She focused on learning French, as well as secretarial and domestic skills, because her father felt that she would need to be able to make her own living once they got to the United States.

    Fritz arrived in New York on April 14, and lived with Gertrude’s brother Walter Loewenberg, and his wife, Annemarie, both physicians, who had left Germany at the end of 1935. At that time, German doctors could practice medicine in New York without taking the medical board exams. That was changed in 1937, due to the large influx of refugees and concerns regarding competition. This meant that Fritz had to study and retrain for the exams. Several months later, Fritz sent for Illa who arrived in the US on August 12. In September, Nellie, who was still living with her grandmother in Berlin, was sent to Switzerland with her aunt, Helene Meyer (1892-?, née Wiesenthal), and her three cousins, Eva, Peter, and Angelika. Ernestine could not leave because she was unable to acquire the necessary papers. Helene and the children stayed in a hotel in the town of Horv-Winkel. One day, Helene’s husband, Edgar (1893-1963), who had been in the US, returned to take his wife and children to Cuba, where they would wait to get US entry visas. Nellie’s father did not want her to take that roundabout journey, so she was placed in a children’s home in Lucerne until arrangements for her journey were finalized. During the trip to Cuba, Nellie’s cousin Angelika fell ill and died. The remaining family members eventually made it to Florida, and later settled in New Jersey.

    In late 1938, a family friend, Frau Kehrli, arrived at the children’s home to take 8-year-old Nellie to Paris, France, and then on to Cherbourg. Nellie boarded the SS Deutschland, along with a governess hired by her family. The ship arrived on January 28, 1939, and Nellie was reunited with her family in New York. Nellie’s arrival was covered by the newspapers, which wrote about how brave it was for a little girl to travel so far without her parents. At first, Nellie stayed with her uncle Walter and aunt Annemarie. Nellie’s father, Fritz, worked as an ambulance doctor, and lived at St. John’s Hospital in Brooklyn while he studied for the board exams. In March, Nellie’s mother, Gertrude, immigrated to the US. Later on, Nellie went to live with several different family friends and acquaintances throughout New York City and on Long Island, and briefly in Florida with Helene. Her sister, Illa, lived with an American family as an au pair and had a day job as a secretary.

    Nellie’s grandmother, Ernestine, emigrated from Berlin to London, England, in late 1939. While waiting for US immigration papers, Ernestine lived in a rented room and spent her time knitting supplies for the Red Cross. In 1942, Ernestine received her immigration papers, and was one of seven female passengers in a three-week-long convoy of Greek freighters travelling across the Atlantic Ocean. In New York, Ernestine was reunited with her family and taken to her daughter Helene’s house in New Jersey. Nellie had not known that she was on her way, and when she went to visit her aunt that weekend, she was incredibly surprised to see her grandmother. Fritz passed the medical exams that year, and established a private ophthalmological practice. Soon the family was living comfortably, and in the same home for the first time in years. Nellie’s mother continued to live apart from the family, and Ernestine cared for them and kept house. After graduating from high school, Nellie attended Queens College, CUNY. In the summer of 1950, Nellie attended summer school at the University of Wisconsin, and she met Sheldon Fink. In 1952, Nellie graduated from college, and in August, she married Sheldon. The couple settled in Chicago, and had two sons.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Household Utensils
    Category
    Tableware
    Object Type
    Teacups (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Drinking vessels.
    Physical Description
    Circular, glazed, white ceramic teacup with a painted ivy vine motif circling the midpoint of the rounded body, and a rounded loop handle fixed to one side. The dark green leaves are highlighted with brown veins and small sprigs, which extend from a dark brown vine around the body’s widest point. Below the vine, the sides of the cup slope inward to a small, rounded foot ring at the base. Above the vine, the sides slope inward slightly before flaring back out into a rim with a rounded edge. The upper end of the handle is shaped like a bird’s head, possibly a swan, with its open beak gripping the rim. The bird’s neck arches upward before curving down and inward, where it attaches to the body and disrupts the ivy design. The bird’s detailed face at the top and wings near the bottom are molded into the handle’s surface. Centered on the flat, inset underside is a maker’s mark in blue underglaze: crossed swords above a numerical year. The undecorated interior is smooth, except where several long, hairline cracks have become discolored over time. These cracks are also visible on the exterior, but are cosmetic rather than structural.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.250 inches (8.255 cm) | Width: 3.625 inches (9.208 cm) | Depth: 2.750 inches (6.985 cm)
    Materials
    overall : ceramic, glaze, paint

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The porcelain teacup was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2008 by Nellie Fink, the daughter of Gertrude Wiesenthal.
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:11:15
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn36227

    Download & Licensing

    In-Person Research

    Contact Us