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Treadle sewing machine with painted star of the type used in Łódź Ghetto

Object | Accession Number: 1990.78.4

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    Treadle sewing machine with painted star of the type used in Łódź Ghetto


    Brief Narrative
    Treadle sewing machines like this ladies' home model sewing machine were used by Jewish forced laborers in Łódź Ghetto in German occupied Poland from May 1940 to summer 1944. This mass produced machine was very durable and affordable. Łódź was occupied by Germany a week after the September 1939 invasion of Poland. It was renamed Litzmannstadt and, in February 1940, the Jewish population, about 160,000 people, was confined to a small sealed off ghetto. All residents had to work and many were forced laborers in ghetto factories. Eventually, nearly 100 factories were in operation. The major ones produced textiles, including uniforms for the German Army. Due to the severe overcrowding and scarce food, disease and starvation were common. The Judenrat [Jewish Council] administered the ghetto for the Germans. Judenrat chairman Mordechai Rumkowski thought hard work and high outputs would preserve the ghetto. But in January 1942, mass deportations to Chelmno killing center began; half the residents were murdered by the end of the year. In summer 1944, Łódź, the last ghetto in Poland, was destroyed and the remaining Jews were sent to Chelmno and Auschwitz-Birkenau killing centers.
    use:  approximately 1930-approximately 1945
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, top right, engrave
    back, baseplate, engraved : S1480879(2?)

    Physical Details

    Tools and Equipment
    Physical Description
    Large, black painted, cast iron treadle sewing machine attached to the right side of a rectangular base plate. The L-shaped machine has a vertical body with a horizontal arm that extends to the left, suspended over the base plate. On the right side of the body are a spoked wheel and pulley disc, with an adjustment wheel on the front. At the left end of the arm is a rectangular sewing head with a face plate, tension levers, and thread guides. On top of the head are 2 tension rods; on the bottom are a needle and an L shaped presser foot. Below the needle, on the base, are 2 slotted, sliding plates, and, on the base underside, a circular shuttle mount with a bobbin case. On top of the arm is 1 spool pin. There are 2 mounting lugs on the back to attach the machine to a table. Eight point gold stars are hand painted on the back, top, and base. Several silver colored elements have a green coating. The user controls the motion and speed of the machine by pressing down on a pivoting treadle connected to a sewing machine table. This motion turns a large wheel on the table, which is connected by a treadle belt to a smaller wheel and pulley on the machine. The belt turns the pulley and shifts the interior mechanism, which pushes the needle up and down, pulling 2 threads, top and bottom, to create a lockstitch.
    overall: Height: 12.125 inches (30.798 cm) | Width: 21.250 inches (53.975 cm) | Depth: 8.750 inches (22.225 cm)
    overall : cast iron, metal, paint, lacquer

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The sewing machine was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1990.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:21:32
    This page:

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