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World War I Iron Cross 2nd class combatant’s medal with ribbon awarded to a German Jewish soldier

Object | Accession Number: 1988.156.1.2 a-b

Iron Cross, 2nd class medal awarded to Kurt Schlesinger for his service in the German Army during World War I (1914-1918). The Iron Cross was first issued in 1813 and was intended only to be issued in times of war. It was reinstated in August 1914, and awarded for bravery and distinguished deeds in combat during the Great War. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. Kurt and his second wife, Christine, were very concerned about Hitler’s policies, and immigrated to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Kurt left behind his teenage daughter, Irene, who lived in Berlin with her mother, Erna Schlesinger. Kurt and Erna had divorced in 1924, and he only saw Irene during holidays. In July 1938, Kurt signed a document granting permission for Irene, a minor, to emigrate because the situation for Jews in Germany had become more dangerous. In July 1939, Irene and Erna arrived in Amsterdam to say goodbye to him before boarding a ship to the United States. Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. In the second half of 1942, Kurt was transported to Westerbork transit camp and held there. After approximately one year, Christine, who was not Jewish, was able to get Kurt out the camp before he could be deported to a concentration camp. In February 1946, Kurt was killed instantly when he was thrown from the bed of a truck during an accident.

commemoration:  1914-1948
issue:  after 1914 August 05
issue: Germany
Military Insignia
Object Type
Medals, German (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Irene S. Woods
Record last modified: 2020-06-30 09:24:08
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