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Pages from a record book with sketches created by a hidden child

Object | Accession Number: 2009.204.18

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    Pages from a record book with sketches created by a hidden child


    Brief Narrative
    Four pages from a record book with colored pencil drawings created by 5 year old Ilona Goldman while living in hiding in Poland from 1942-1944. A few pages are covered with drawings and doodles by Ilona. Most pages have Polish writing in an adult hand, some of these have small drawings by Ilona. In spring 1942, Ilona was separated from her parents and placed with the Polish peasant family of Hania Seremet, who agreed to hide Ilona for a fee. Drawings were the only way for the talkative child, not yet able to write, to communicate with her parents. Many drawings were done on the weekly letters Hania sent to Ilona's parents. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Ilona, with her parents, Salomon and Gusta fled Krakow for Soviet controlled Lvov (Lviv, Ukraine). When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the family was forced into the Jewish ghetto where Salomon worked as an accountant at a meat factory owned by the Wehrmacht. In spring 1942, fearing the liquidation of the ghetto, Salomon arranged a hiding place for them outside the ghetto with a former employee, Jozef Jozak. However, he would not hide Ilona because it would be too hard to conceal a lively 4 year-old. Ilona was smuggled to the countryside and placed in hiding as a Christian child with a Polish woman paid to hide her. After 6 months, Salomon could no longer pay for her care, so Ilona was brought back to live in their hiding place, without the knowledge of the Jozak family. Ilona had to stay most of this time locked in a closet with only her drawings and medical textbooks left by a previous tenant. The family lived in hiding until the Soviet Army liberated the city in July 1944. When the war ended in May 1945, they returned to Krakow.
    creation:  1942-1943
    creation: Marcinkowice (Wojewodztwo Dolnoslaskie, Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Alona Frankel
    Artist: Alona Frankel
    Subject: Alona Frankel
    Ilona (Alona) Goldman (later Frankel) was born on June 27, 1937, to Gusta and Salomon Goldman in Krakow, Poland. Salomon was born in 1901 in Bochnia and had two brothers. Gusta was born in 1904 in Oswieczim and had five brothers and sisters. Both her parents were communists, an association that was illegal at the time. Salomon and Gusta married in 1936 and live in a lavish villa Salomon had built in Bochnia. He ran a successful construction supply business and the family lived comfortably, with servants and a nanny. In September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The family fled to Lwow (Lviv, Ukraine) in the Russian-occupied section of eastern Poland. Her father worked as the chief accountant in a tannery/slaughterhouse factory.

    In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Jews in Lwow were forced into the ghetto. The factory where her father worked came under the control of the SS, but he retained his job. The manager, Herr Knaup, designated Salomon an essential employee which offered some protection from deportation. He also allowed the family to live in an alcove attached to the factory. Salomon would hide leftover blood and entrails from the slaughterhouse for the other Jewish workers. They would drink the coagulated blood right away and wrap the entrails around their bodies under their clothes to smuggle back into the ghetto. At some point, the Goldmans had to move into the ghetto. During one round-up, Gusta and Ilona were placed on a transport for the camps, but someone told Salomon and the boss from the factory, Bulani, came and got them released. In March 1942, the Germans began deporting Jews from the ghetto to Belzec extermination camp. At some point, Salomon was arrested and taken to Janowska camp. He was tortured for two days, and then released. Salomon constructed a hiding place in their room that you reached by crawling through the stove. There was an aktion to clear the ghetto of children and when Gusta found Ilona, they hid there with several others. In early June 1943, the Germans destroyed the ghetto, killing thousands of Jews. The remaining residents were sent to Janowska forced-labor camp or deported to Belzec.

    In the spring of 1942, fearing the liquidation of the ghetto, Ilona’s father had arranged a hiding place for them outside the ghetto with Jozef Jozak, a former employee of Salomon’s. Jozef’s Russian Orthodox wife, Rozalia, opposed the plan because it would endanger them and their two children. They finally agree to hide Gusta and Salomon for a payment. But they refused to hide Ilona because it would be too risky to conceal a two year-old child. Her parents arranged to have a Polish woman, Hania Seremet, hide her as a Christian girl for payment. Hania had previously abandoned a young Jewish boy at the ghetto fence when his parents were killed and the payments stopped. Ilona was smuggled out of the ghetto by Hania and taken to the village of Marcinowice, where she lived as Irena Seremet, a Christian child, with Hania’s grandparents. Ilona shepherded the horse and geese and grated potatoes for meals. Hania would occasionally give Ilona a colored pencil and tell her to make drawings to send to her parents. Gusta sent a green dress she had embroidered with flowers so Hania could take Ilona to be photographed, as proof the child was alive. Ilona was not allowed to keep this dress or other items; Hania sold them instead. Ilona slept on straw in a box with a lid that served as a bench during the day. Ilona’s parents could afford to keep her there only 6 months; the last few months were paid for with gold crowns that Salomon pried from Gusta’s mouth with his pocketknife. When the payments stopped, Hania dumped Alona at the Jozak’s door one night and Salomon and Gusta hid Alona with them in the small hiding room, without the knowledge of the Jozak family. Ilona was lice ridden, but healthy and well-fed. She did not remember her parents and spoke a Polish dialect they could not understand. They spent nearly all of their time locked in a small room, lying on the bed and telling stories. They were always hungry. Josef Jozak was an alcoholic and his wife would often take the family away and leave no food for the Goldmans. To help deal with hunger pains, Gusta would dictate a daily menu to Salomon on which Ilona sometimes drew pictures. On some occasion, Gusta had to risk leaving the house to get food. Among the few items Ilona had to occupy her time were medical textbooks that belonged to the former inhabitants of the house, a Jewish gynecologist and his family who were killed in the camps. The Jozak’s were eventually told of Ilona’s presence and she occasionally played with their son, Eidig, who was the same age. They lived in hiding until the liberation in July 1944. They had trouble walking at first, having barely left the room for over a year.

    The Jozak’s sixteen year old daughter had died of tuberculosis in Gusta’s arms during the war and Gusta had contracted the illness, She was placed in a hospital for terminal TB patients. Salomon put Ilona in the care of a wealthy Jewish couple, the Fishmans, who had survived the war in hiding. Salomon, still a dedicated communist, sold the newspaper Czerwony Shtandar (The Red Flag) on street corners to earn money. The Fishmans complained that Ilona was an unpleasant child who did nothing but cry and that Salomon must come and take her. He then placed Ilona in an orphanage. After Gusta’s recovery under the care of Dr. Ordung, the family was reunited and lived in one room in a shared apartment. Salomon worked again as an accountant at the slaughterhouse/tanning factory. After the war ended in May 1945, they returned to Krakow. Salomon’s brothers had both gone to the Soviet Union during the war. Henryk returned from Siberia, but David never returned. Gusta’s only remaining sibling was Salka who had emigrated to Palestine before the war; the other five siblings and their families were killed in the camps.

    Salomon helped Josef Jozak and his family return to Krakow. Their home in Bochnia was nationalized by the Communist government and divided into four apartments. Salomon had joined the Polish Communist Party immediately after liberation and was appointed state comptroller for all the breweries in Poland. Ilona attended a summer camp in Zakopane that was attacked by antisemites. Ilona, now eight years old, was enrolled in school and it was learned that the little girl who was always bent over a book or a piece of paper did not know how to write. She could read fluently and had felt no need to add words to the stories she drew. In 1949, an anonymous person made threats against Salomon’s life because he was Jewish. The family decided to leave Poland and sailed for Israel in December 1949, arriving on January 1, 1950. Salomon, 58, died in 1958. Alona married Zygmunt Frankel in 1958 and has two children. She became an award winning children’s author and illustrator. Gusta, age 90, died in 1994. Alona wrote a memoir of her wartime experiences in 2004, A Girl, which won the Sapir Prize.

    Physical Details

    Children's art
    Physical Description
    Matted display of one pair of pages from a set of four stapled, stained white lined pages, 4.5 in. wide, from a record book. One page is has a large sketch of a stick figure girl with long, blond hair and red cheeks and mouth in an orange/red dress with sketches of 2 girls with crowns near the top and 2 women at the bottom. The adjacent page, upside down relative to the drawing, has a pencilled list in Polish. Most of the pages on one side are filled with Polish cursive writing in pencil. A few have doodles by a child; one has a sketch of a young girl with long blonde hair done by an adult. Most pages on the other side have sketches done by a child in pencil with colored pencil accents. One page has a series of horizontal boxes with geometric patterns; 2 pages have a house, an elf in a red and green stocking cap, and angels; 4th page is the full length drawing of a young girl. The drawing is in a hinged, window pane mat with a cover.
    pictorial area: Height: 9.375 inches (23.813 cm) | Width: 8.875 inches (22.543 cm)
    overall: Height: 18.000 inches (45.72 cm) | Width: 14.000 inches (35.56 cm)
    overall : paper, graphite, colored pencil, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Frankel, Alona.

    Administrative Notes

    The set of drawings were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 by Alona Frankel.
    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:
    2023-05-18 08:04:19
    This page:

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