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Reusable embossed cigarette lighter used by German Jewish German US soldier

Object | Accession Number: 2003.149.69

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    Reusable embossed cigarette lighter used by German Jewish German US soldier

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    Brief Narrative
    Reusable cigarette lighter with a ca. 1927-1945 French tax seal acquired by Rudolph Sichel, a Jewish refugee from Frankfurt, Germany, who served in the US Army in Europe from July 1944 to June 1946. In May 1936, unable to return to Germany from England because of anti-Jewish regulations, Sichel went to the US. His parents Ernst and Frieda joined him in 1940. In April 1943, Sichel enlisted in the Army and was sent to Camp Ritchie for military intelligence training. In July 1944, Sichel, Chief Interrogator, Interrogation of Prisoners of War Team 13, landed on Utah Beach in France, attached to the 104th Infantry, the Timberwolf Division. As the unit advanced through France, Belgium, and Germany, Sichel interrogated those captured. On April 11, 1945, the unit liberated Dora-Mittelbau/Nordhausen concentration camp. Sichel took photographs of the camp and other wartime events, which are part of this collection, 2003.149.1. After the war ended in May, 2nd Lt. Sichel was attached to the 9th Army. He interrogated prisoners of war and civilian witnesses and did fact finding missions for war crimes trials. In June 1946, 1st Lt. Sichel returned to the US. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.
    received:  approximately 1926-before 1946
    manufacture:  after 1926-before 1946
    manufacture: France
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Howard S. Sichel and Linda Sichel Strohmenger
    base, left side, on seal, engraved : CI / MINISTE[RE?] FINANCES / CI [indirect contributions / finance ministry / indirect contributions]
    lid, right side, engraved : FEUDOR 69•2
    Subject: Rudolph D. Sichel
    Manufacturer: Feudor
    Rudolf (Rudolph) Daniel Sichel was born on January 2, 1915, in the Hesse district of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to Ernst and Frieda Oppenheimer Sichel. Ernst was born on July 20, 1874, in Frankfurt am Main, to Seligmann and Sophia Seligmann Sichel. Frieda was born on April 24, 1876, in Rimbach, Germany, to a Jewish couple. Rudolf’s mother had one older sister, Georgine, and two younger ones, Ida and Cecelia, all of whom had immigrated to the United States by 1908. Rudolf’s father managed the family business, a haberdashery shop, S. Sichel, which had been established in 1874. Rudolf had an older brother, Walter (1905-1955.) In the early 1930’s, Rudolf worked as a sales clerk in his family’s store. Following his graduation from school, he began a course of study at the University of Frankfurt.

    Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Anti-Jewish decrees were enacted to severely restrict Jewish participation in German society. In 1933, Frankfurt had a Jewish community of about 26,000, the second largest in Germany. In 1934, 19 year old Rudolf went to London, England, to study business. In 1936, Rudolf, unable to return to Germany because of the restrictions on Jews, left for the United States aboard the SS Berengaria. He arrived In New York City on May 26, and moved in with his aunt and uncle, Ida and Moe Blum. Later that year, Rudolph found work as a sales clerk at R.H. Macy & Co. He often went by Rudy, and, unofficially, seems to have changed the spelling of his name to Rudolph. In October 1937, Rudolph’s brother Walter and his wife, Elizabeth, arrived in New York City. On November 9 or 10, 1938, during the Kristallnacht pogrom, Rudolph’s father, Ernst, was arrested, marched down the street with his hands up in the air, and taken to Buchenwald concentration camp. He was assigned prisoner number 4173. On November 27, Ernst was released and returned home. Soon after his return, Ernst was forced to sell the family store to a non-Jew for less than it was worth. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and World War II began. In early 1940, Rudolph moved out of his aunt and uncle’s apartment and found his own apartment. In March, Rudolph’s brother, Walter, helped sponsor their parents’ emigration, and Ernst and Frieda left Germany, and sailed from Liverpool, England, on the SS Britannic. When they arrived in April, Rudolph’s parents moved in with him. By 1941, Rudolph, had been promoted to an assistant buyer at R.H. Macy & Co.

    Soon after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. On April 29, 1943, Rudolph enlisted in the US Army and was selected for the Military Intelligence Training Center at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, to learn interrogation techniques. On October 23, he graduated from Camp Ritchie. On June 24, 1944, the Military Intelligence Service designated Rudolph as Chief Interrogator and second in command of Interrogation of Prisoners of War Team 13. In July 1944, Rudolph landed on Utah Beach in France. In October, his team was attached to the 104th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Timberwolf Division, as they advanced into Belgium. By November, the Division was approaching Aachen, Germany, as part of the 12th Army Group. From December 1944 to February 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, the 104th defended territory near Duren, Germany. In March, the Division captured Cologne, crossed the Rhine River, and continued eastward. Rudolph interrogated prisoners in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Rudolph, an avid photographer who owned several cameras and accessories, photographed many wartime events, landscapes, and his fellow soldiers. On April 11, soldiers from the 104th Division liberated Dora-Mittelbau/Nordhausen concentration camps and Rudolph photographed the horrific conditions. The Division continued to advance until April 26, when they met allied Soviet forces near Pretzsch, Germany. On May 7, Germany surrendered.

    On May 9, Rudolph, now a Master Sergeant, was discharged from the Army. He received a field commission and was immediately reenlisted as a Second Lieutenant. On May 29, Rudolph was attached to the 9th Army as an interrogator. He was responsible for interrogating prisoners of war and war criminals in order to discover and document wartime activities and events for use as evidence for the war crimes trials scheduled for Nuremberg. He also served as an interpreter and made fact finding visits to former concentration camps to gather additional information. In mid-June 1946, Rudolph returned to the US and was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. Rudolph received many medals for his service, including a Bronze Star, and a US Army Commendation. He returned to New York City and his former position at R. H. Macy & Co. On January 18, 1948, Rudolph married Sylvia Ruth Eisenkraft (1916-2007) and the couple had 2 children. Rudolph’s father Ernst, age 88, died in 1962, in New York. Rudolph’s mother, Frieda, age 87, died in 1963, in New York. Rudolph, age 63, died in April 27, 1978, at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Rectangular, reusable, brass colored metal cigarette lighter with a removable lid. Both base and lid are engraved with geometric, Art Deco style designs, and the base side has a silver embossed panel. The fragile lighter mechanism is in a metal sheath that slides into the decorative base. It has an open bottom and a flat top with a striker wheel and the tip of the thick cotton wick packed inside the sheath. A French tax seal and manufacturing information are engraved on the lighter exterior.
    overall: Height: 2.625 inches (6.668 cm) | Width: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    overall : metal, cotton

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The cigarette lighter was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Howard Sichel and Linda Sichel Strohmenger, the children of Rudolph Daniel Sichel.
    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:
    2023-09-01 10:08:42
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