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Brown alligator leather suitcase used by Austrian Jewish child on the Kindertransport

Object | Accession Number: 2007.517.1

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    Brown alligator leather suitcase used by Austrian Jewish child on the Kindertransport

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    Brief Narrative
    Suitcase used by 10 year old Erika Schulhof when she was sent from Vienna, Austria, to Great Britain in 1938 on the Kindertransport. Erika was the only child of an assimilated Jewish couple, Dr. Friedrich and Gertrude Schulhof. Her father lost his job because he was Jewish according to the racial laws passed after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. Following the Kristallnacht pogrom that November, they decided to send Erika on a Kindertransport. Her parents were not able to get permits to leave Austria and, in October 1941, they were deported to the Łódź ghetto. In 1943, they were murdered in the Chelmno killing center. Most of Erika's relatives were killed during the Holocaust. In 1949, she was able to join her maternal aunt who had escaped to the United States in 1938.
    emigration:  1938
    use:  1938-1942
    received: Kindertransport; Vienna (Austria)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Erika Rybeck
    Subject: Erika Rybeck
    Erika Schulhof was born in Hohenau, Austria in 1928 to Dr. Friedrich Schulhof (b. Krakow, 1882-1942?) and Gertrude Schulhof (nee Weil, b. Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1895-1942?). Gertrude’s family was very well-to do. Her father, Karl, was an engineer and the second highest ranking official in Brno. Gertrude was not raised Jewish and attended an Evangelical school with her two sisters, Ellie, born 1894, and Mia, born 1897. Friedrich and Gertrude married on March 24, 1928, in Prague. Her father worked as an engineer at a sugar factory in Hohenau. Erika was raised in an assimilated family; they did not observe Jewish rituals or associate with the Jewish community. The family converted to Catholicism, partly to make it easier for Erika in the small village.
    In March 1938, German troops annexed Austria. Anti-Jewish legislation was introduced and Jews found themselves excluded from many areas of daily life and certain professions. Even though Erika’s parents did not consider themselves Jews, they were classified as Jews by the racial laws. In August, Erika’s father was fired from his job because he was Jewish. The family moved to Vienna and lived with Friedrich‘s mother, Gabrielle Popper Schulhof. As a Jew, Erika was not permitted to attend public school. She went to the Ursuline Convent school, but she had to hide her books and pretend that she was delivering fruits or vegetables to the nuns. Gertrude’s brother-in-law, Fritz Treuer, who lived in the US, sent affidavits of support and money for American visas, but the family was not able to obtain visas.
    In April 1939, after her family secured her acceptance into a boarding school, ten year old Erika was sent by Kindertransport to Great Britain, where she lived at the Sacred Heart Convent in Aberdeen, Scotland. The convent was not aware of her Jewish heritage. Her father was able to find a position in a sugar factory in Turkey, but he and his wife were not able to get work permits to leave Austria. Erika continued to attend the convent school through middle and high school. Erika received many letters and presents from her parents through the fall of 1941. On September 23, 1941, she received her confirmation as a Catholic.

    Erika attended the University of Edinburgh for two years, but finished her education at the University of Dayton in the US. Her parents were presumed dead. In 1949, she received an immigration visa for the United States, after her maternal aunt submitted an affidavit of support. Erika’s aunt Mia had escaped Germany for the US in 1938 with her husband and son. Nearly all of Erika’s other relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. It was not until after the war that she learned of her Jewish heritage from relatives. Erika married Walter Rybeck in Dayton, Ohio, in 1954 and they had two children. In 1994, she discovered the details of her parents’ fate. Friedrich and Gertrude were deported on October 23, 1941, with her paternal grandmother from Vienna to the Łódź ghetto in Poland. It is believed that in 1942 they were transported to and murdered in the Chelmno killing center.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Suitcases (aat)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular brown suitcase constructed of alligator leather over a cardboard frame with an interior wooden support. The lid is attached to the base with 2 metal back hinges and there is 1 metal interior hinge to hold the lid open. The interior is lined with white and blue striped paper and there are 2 garment straps with metal buckles. There are leather and metal corner reinforcements riveted to the outside corners with metal rivets and fittings along the lid, lid edge, and sides. There are 2 hasp locks on the lid and the base and a plastic handle attached at the top with metal brackets. There are several stickers with text and designs on the exterior top and 4 label fragments and text on the side.
    overall: Height: 7.000 inches (17.78 cm) | Width: 23.750 inches (60.325 cm) | Depth: 15.750 inches (40.005 cm)
    overall : leather, paper, wood, metal, plastic, cloth, pressure-sensitive tape
    exterior lid, label : PAOTOS
    exterior lid, left : No 466
    exterior lid, label fragment : SOUTHERN RAIL
    exterior lid, address label : RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY INCORPORATED
    exterior lid, circular label : UNITED STATES LINES / CABIN CLASS (eagle holding a shield with an S)
    exterior side, beneath label fragments : SOUTHERN RAIL

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The suitcase was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Erika Rybeck.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 21:51:03
    This page:

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