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Carved upright wooden bench owned by German Jewish refugees

Object | Accession Number: 1990.307.11 a-d

Large, handcrafted wooden bench with storage space made in 1911, in Munich Germany, and owned by Irene Heppner’s father, Jakob Krämer. The bench was brought with the family when they fled to Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1933. It was occasionally used as a hiding place during the Nazi occupation, and was one of the few things remaining in their apartment after the war. Irene and Albert Heppner fled Berlin, Germany, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Albert reestablished his art dealership, and their son, Max, was born later that year. In May 1940, Germany occupied the Netherlands, and established a civilian administration run largely by the SS. The occupying administration gradually tightened control on the residents, and required Jews to register their business assets. Albert’s work permit was rescinded in 1940, but he continued dealing illegally on a small scale. In 1942, the authorities raided their home for valuables on multiple occasions, and began rounding up Jews for deportation in the summer. Albert and his friend, Heinz Graumann, were connected to an underground group who promised to smuggle their families out of the country. They left Amsterdam on August 9, and the smugglers moved them through a series of hiding places. On September 10, the Heppners were placed on a farm owned by Johann (Harry) and Hubertina (Dina) Janssen in Zeilberg-Deurne, where they resided in an empty chicken house. After the Netherlands was liberated in early May, Albert set out to check on his friends and business in Amsterdam. On June 5, Albert suddenly became very ill and died of liver failure. Irene and Max returned to Amsterdam, and lived with friends until their immigration to the United States in November 1946. The bench was sent to Max as a wedding gift after he married in 1958.

manufacture:  approximately 1911
use:  before 1942 August
received:  approximately 1958
creation: Munich (Germany)
use: Amsterdam (Netherlands)
received: United States
Furnishings and Furniture
Object Type
Benches (lcsh)
Seating furniture.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Max Amichai Heppner
Record last modified: 2021-09-13 13:53:04
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