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Wooden comb and handmade paper case given to a prisoner by a friend in Kaiserwald concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2012.310.1 a-b

Wooden comb and paper case given to 21 year old Esther Dykman by a friend on December 27, 1944, when they were slave laborers in an AEG Factory in Kaiserwald concentration camp in Riga, Latvia. The friend found the comb on the side of the road and made the holder from materials taken from the factory where she and Esther worked. Germany invaded Soviet controlled Poland in June 21,1941, and three days later occupied Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania) where Esther lived with her parents and 8 year old sister Cyla. By July, they enacted policies to persecute the Jews. German mobile killing units, aided by Lithuanian auxiliaries murdered 5000 Jewish men in the nearby Ponary forest in July and another 3500 in August. Esther's father was killed in this pogrom. Esther, her stepmother, and sister were kept in the Vilna ghetto until September 1943, when Esther was sent to Kaiserwald concentration camp. Esther worked as slave labor in the AEG factory in Riga. She later was transferred to Stutthof concentration camp and then Thorn subcamp in August 1944. The camp was evacuated as Soviet forces neared. Esther and a friend escaped a forced march in January 1945 and were liberated in Torun, Poland, on January 22. When the war ended in May 1945, Esther returned to Poland to search for family members, but she found none. She met Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, who was arranging for orphans to be sent to Great Britain. Esther was too old, but he agreed to lie and say she was 16 and she was sent to England in 1946. In London, she met Morris Gastwirth, a survivor originally from Tarnow Poland. They married in June 1946 and had a son in 1948. The family immigrated to the United States in January 1951.

received:  1944 December 27
received: Kaiserwald (Concentration camp); Riga (Latvia)
Object Type
Combs (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Esther Dykman Gastwirth
Record last modified: 2020-06-30 09:26:01
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