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Red leather photograph case carried by a Jewish Austrian refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2011.433.1

Dark red leather photograph display case carried by Lilly Morawetz in her backpack in 1939 when she fled German occupied Prague, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) for France. She kept it with her while held in Gurs internment camp in 1940 and during her flight through Spain and Portugal to the US in 1941. After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Lilly sent her youngest child, Margit, 16, to Paris. Lilly was visiting Margit that September when Germany annexed the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. She hurried back to Prague to sell their home. In March 1939, she was still in Prague when Germany annexed the Bohemia and Moravia regions, which included Prague. Lilly and her son Bruno escaped to Paris. Bruno continued to England and Lilly stayed in Paris with Margit. Lilly and her husband, who died in 1932, were assimilated Jews and the children were born in Austria and raised with no religious affiliation. Their passports identified them only as Austrian, and not also as Jews. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and France declared war on Germany. Austrian citizens were considered enemy aliens. Lilly was placed in Gurs detention camp and Margit was ordered to report to the Paris police regularly. In May 1940, Germany invaded France. Margit fled south, to be near Gurs. In June, France capitulated and people with Austrian citizenship were no longer enemy aliens. Lilly was released and rejoined Margit. They crossed into the unoccupied Vichy / Free France zone and went to Marseilles to try to obtain visas to leave France. They then crossed illegally into Spain and reached Lisbon, Portugal. Lilly contacted her son Felix in the US and, with his help, she and Margit arrived in America in April 1941.

use:  1939-1941
use: Prague (Czech Republic)
use: Gurs (Concentration camp); Gurs (France)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Margit Meissner
Record last modified: 2022-06-01 14:21:04
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