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Brodie pattern MK II green steel helmet worn by a Belgian officer

Object | Accession Number: 2012.229.1

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    Brodie pattern MK II green steel helmet worn by a Belgian officer
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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    British issued Brodie pattern MK II green steel helmet worn by Marcel Frank when he was a Belgian liaison officer with the British Army during the liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp in late April 1945. Marcel was stationed at Lueneberg, on the outskirts of Bergen Belsen, and assisted with the repatriation of Belgian survivors in the displaced persons camp. He was present when the British uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of forced laborers in the nearby forest. Local former Nazi officials were forced by the Army to exhume, make coffins, and properly rebury the 243 bodies. The townspeople also were forced to witness the atrocity. Marcel was serving as a translator for the War Crimes Trials in Nuremberg, Germany, when he was killed in a car accident in 1946. During the occupation of Belgium by Germany from May 1940-September 1944, Marcel, who was born Jewish but converted to Catholicism upon his marriage, had to live in hiding in the family's apartment. When the city was liberated in September 1944, Marcel, a veteran of World War I, volunteered for military service.
    Date
    use:  1945
    Geography
    use: Bergen-Belsen (Concentration camp); Belsen (Bergen, Celle, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Michèle Delsaute Dognon-Schmitt
    Contributor
    Subject: Marcel Frank
    Biography
    Marcel Frank was born on August 1, 1897, in Celle Saint Cloud, France, the only child of Jewish parents, Guillaume and Elsa Lazare Frank. The family lived in England for a few years, but Marcel mostly lived in Brussels, Belgium. His father was a violinist and stockbroker. Marcel also became a stockbroker and, with his father, commuted daily to Antwerp. His father died just before World War I (1914-1918.) Marcel volunteered to serve in the First World War and returned before the wars end when he was wounded in the right arm. After the war, he resumed his career as a stockbroker. Marcel converted to Catholicism to please the family of his future wife, Renee Moniquet. They married in 1925 in the Eglise de l'Annonciation in Ixelles. Their daughter Jacqueline was born on November 28, 1926. The family lost a great deal of money during the depression of the late 1920s-30s, but kept their home.

    In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Belgium. The Franks tried to flee to England through Normandy, but were turned back by the Germans. It is unclear whether Marcel was registered as a Jew or had to live in hiding to avoid the anti-Jewish policies enacted by the German occupying authorities. However, he did not leave their apartment during the years of occupation. His mother was placed in a home for the elderly and died of a stroke during the war. Jacqueline, a student at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, assisted the underground resistance movement by transporting resistance flyers in the bottom of her paint box.

    After Brussels was liberated in September 1944, Marcel signed up for military service. He was assigned to the British army as a Belgian liaison officer. He was with the Army when it liberated Bergen Belsen concentration camp in late April 1945. He was stationed in the nearby town of Lueneburg and was present when the British Army uncovered a mass grave in the nearby forest. The remains were identified as those of forced laborers. Former Nazi officials were forced by the Army to exhume, build coffins, and rebury the 243 bodies and the townspeople were required to attend the burial ceremony. Marcel assisted with the repatriation of Belgian survivors and the care of displaced persons in the Lueneburg displaced person camp. During the War Crimes Trials held by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, he served as a translator. Marcel, age 49, died on November 14, 1946, in Bedburg, Germany, in an automobile accident. He was buried in a Catholic ceremony. In 1948, his body was reburied in the military honors section of the cemetery in Ixelles. He was posthumously named Chevalier de l'Ordre du roi Leopold II.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Dress Accessories
    Category
    Headgear
    Object Type
    Helmets (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Green painted British Brodie pattern MK II convex domed steel helmet with a narrow rim. An adjustable light green canvas chin strap is attached to the interior shell. On the interior is a round metal wire support frame with a cross shaped rubber pad screwed into the crown. Attached to the lower frame are 5 flaps made of worn, plastic treated, black cloth. A dark brown shoelace has been threaded through a channel at the top of each flap to work as a drawstring. There are 8 rectangular rubber shock absorbers between the frame and helmet. The paint is chipped and the exterior is scratched and stained.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 5.250 inches (13.335 cm) | Width: 10.875 inches (27.623 cm) | Depth: 12.375 inches (31.433 cm)
    Materials
    overall : steel, cloth, metal, paint, rubber

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The helmet was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Michèle Dognon-Schmitt, the granddaughter of Marcel Frank.
    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:
    2022-08-02 15:27:52
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn47088

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