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Labor camp Supervisor armband worn by Czech Jewish inmate

Object | Accession Number: 2009.18.2

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    Labor camp Supervisor armband worn by Czech Jewish inmate


    Brief Narrative
    Aufsicht [Supervisor] armband issued to 24 year old Charlotte (Sari) Ickovics in 1944-1945 when she was an inmate of Sommerda slave labor camp in Germany. She worked in a munitions factory that assembled bullet casings. In 1944, she and her eight siblings were separated from their parents in the ghetto in Berehove, Czechoslovakia (Ukraine) and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sari and her sister, Irene, were sent to Gelsenkirchen concentration camp and, when the Allies neared the area, transported to Sommerda. She and Irene were liberated during a death march when their SS guards fled. Five of her eight siblings survived; her parents, a brother, two sisters and their children, did not.
    use:  1944-1945
    issue: Sommerda (Concentration camp); Sommerda (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of Charlotte Neufeld
    front, stencilled, brown ink : Aufsicht [Supervisor]
    Subject: Charlotte Neufeld
    Charlotte (Sari) Ickovits/Itskovitch (later Charlotte Neufeld) was born on September 26, 1919, in Dunkovica, Czechoslovakia, to Ignasz and Zlai (Sarah) Blobstein Ickovitz. She was the sixth of eight children: Maurice, Lenke, Dora, Lajos, Bertna, Irenke, and Ernest. In 1920, the family moved to Berehove, in the Carpathian region. Her father, a World War I veteran, was a merchant who sold hay. They lived in a large house with a garden and grape arbor. The family spoke Hungarian at home; both parents spoke Yiddish. The household was kosher and they attended synagogue regularly. Sarah knew Hebrew and people often asked her to find passages in the prayer book for them. The children had music lessons; Sari had a gift for the played the violin. In 1939, with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, Berehove and the surrounding region were annexed by Hungary. The fascist government was closely allied with Germany and instituted antisemitic measures based upon the Nuremberg racial laws. Jews lost their citizenship and were barred from many professions. Ignasz kept his business by bringing in a German partner who hired Sari as a bookkeeper. The family lost many friends who found it was too much trouble to maintain relationships with Jews. In 1940-41, Sari’s eldest brother was inducted into a forced labor battalion.

    In March 1944, Germany occupied Hungary. Ignasz lost his business and a Hungarian family moved into their home when Sari’s family was relocated to a brick factory in the ghetto. The siblings were separated from their parents. After eight days, Sari, Ernest, Irenke, and Dora and her young daughter were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Upon arrival, Sari and Irenke were sent in one direction, Dora and her daughter in another. The sisters were shaved and given dirty dresses. They were told by some Slovak girls that their parents had gone up the chimneys. They had to stand for roll call for hours in freezing weather with a Polish capo who whipped people for no cause. A woman in their barracks hid them during one work selection. After six weeks, Sari and Irenke were transferred to Gelsenkirchen where all the other inmates were Hungarian. They were housed in big tents and worked cleaning ruins created by Allied bombing raids. In late September 1944, bombs were dropped on the camp; Sari’s best friend was killed. Sari and Irenke were sent to Sommerda labor camp where they worked in a munitions factory putting together bullet casings. Sari was chosen to be a supervisor. She had to keep everyone busy and look after the other woman; she would give the frailest women the easiest jobs to help them keep going. She shared a blanket and cot with her sister and they avoided talk about their parents. Sari had male admirers in the camp, a welcome distraction. She kept a diary and wrote poems on stolen paper. Food was not plentiful, and they were never fully satisfied. In the spring of 1945, the Allies were bombing the area and the inmates were forced on a march toward the Czech border. For ten days, they had very little food, but sometimes people along the way gave them a potato, some water to drink or wash, or hay for a bed. They reached a small village, Reinsholdshain, where they hid in a basement with a German family to escape the bombing and fighting. The German SS fled the area and American troops arrived a few days later.

    Sari and Irenke returned to Berehove. The Hungarian family had taken most of their furnishings. Informed they were in Soviet territory, they left for Budapest. Five of their eight siblings had survived. Their parents, Dora and her children Joseph and Lili, Lenke and her daughter Juji, were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau in spring 1944. Sari was married in Budapest on October 14, 1945, to Ernest Neufeld, born June 13, 1915, whom she had known before the war. Ernest was imprisoned in a slave labor camp for over four years. He lost his mother during the war and had a younger brother Nicholas who survived. Sari enrolled in medical school and finished her first year. But conditions were very difficult in postwar Budapest, and in 1947, she and Ernest moved to Prague. Irenke married Imre Moldovan, who was previously married to Lenke. In 1949, Sari and Ernest joined Irenke and Imre, who had two children, in Haifa, Israel. In May 1958, Sari and their son left to join Ernest in the United States. She never talked much about the war, but kept her faith in God and the decency of human beings and believed that a life could always be rebuilt. Sari, age 89, died on January 15, 2009.

    Physical Details

    Identifying Artifacts
    Object Type
    Armbands (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Stained and worn offwhite cloth armband stitched together to form a band and hemmed in blue thread, with German text stencilled across front in brown ink.
    overall: Height: 6.250 inches (15.875 cm) | Width: 2.750 inches (6.985 cm)
    overall : cloth, thread, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The armband was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 by Amos Neufeld, the son of Charlotte Neufeld, on behalf of the Estate of Charlotte Neufeld.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 21:51:05
    This page:

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