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Monogrammed green knapsack used by an Austrian Jewish child on the Kindertransport

Object | Accession Number: 2007.517.2

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    Monogrammed green knapsack used by an Austrian Jewish child on the Kindertransport


    Brief Narrative
    Knapsack used by 10 year old Erika Schulhof when she was sent from Vienna, Austria, to Great Britain on the Kindertransport. Erika's initials were embroidered on her knapsack by her mother before her departure. 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. The family moved to Vienna and, following the Kristallnacht pogrom that November, they decided to send Erika on a Kindertransport to England. 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. But 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
    Backpacks (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Square light green canvas knapsack with a leather drawstring opening and a canvas flap closure attached by a leather and metal buckle. There are 2 canvas pockets near the bottom with canvas flaps with a leather and metal buckle closure; the right pocket has a reinforced leather flap. There are 2 leather shoulder straps attached to the upper center back by a triangular metal ring attached with a leather patch. The straps are reinforced by 2 metal rivets that attach to the bottom with leather patches. There is an internal repair on the side seam done with leather. There is a white cloth label with embroidered red initials inside the top opening. The leather on the knapsack is not the original material.
    overall: Height: 19.250 inches (48.895 cm) | Width: 20.500 inches (52.07 cm)
    overall : cloth, leather, metal, thread
    interior, on white tag, embroidered, red thread : ES

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The knapsack 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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