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Green dotted cream handkerchief received by Kindertransport refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2011.412.1

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    Brief Narrative
    Silk handkerchief with green dots, embroidered Ruth, sent to Ruth Mondschein for her 11th birthday by Marie, the family's housekeeper in Vienna. Ruth was living in the Netherlands where her parents had sent her on a Kindertransport [Children's Transport] from Austria on December 10, 1938. Her father, Markus, and Marie were arrested at the family's home on Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938. Marie, who was not Jewish, was quickly released. Markus was sent to Dachau concentration camp. He was released on the condition that he leave the country. He arranged for Ruth and her brother, Walter, 6, to escape on the first Kindertransport to the Netherlands. The children later were sent to an aunt in the United States, arriving on October 26, 1939. Ruth's parents emigrated on November 17, and the family settled in New York.
    commemoration:  1939 February 22
    received: Hague (Netherlands)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ruth Mondschein Zimbler
    Subject: Ruth Zimbler
    Ruth Mondschein was born on February 22, 1928, in Vienna, Austria, to Hene Libe (Hella) and Markus Bloch Zimbler. Ruth’s younger brother, Walter, was born in 1932. Hella was born on September 4, 1896, in Brody, Poland (Ukraine), to Chaya Rachel Bloch. She had an older sister, Mindl,who lived in Brody with her daughter. Markus was born on October 12, 1890, in Kalusz, Poland (Ukraine). He had three brothers: Max, Solomon, and Jacob; one brother lived in Vienna with his wife and child; another lived with his family in Krakow, Poland. Markus had been a prisoner of war in Siberia during World War I (1914-1918) but was released due to the Russian Revolution in 1917. The couple married on March 22, 1925. Hella was a well-known dressmaker, specializing in white goods sewing for wedding trousseaus. Markus had been a mechanical engineer working on locomotives, but lost his job in 1930 because if the decreased demand for trains. Hella had many good connections in the Jewish community from her work and Markus now worked in social services for the Jewish Community in Vienna. They were an observant Jewish family and kept kosher. Markus’s job included an apartment one of the two buildings adjacent to the largest synagogue in the city on Temple Street. Ruth went to public school, but attended Hebrew school in the afternoon. The family spent their summer vacations in the Austrian Alps.

    On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria and annexed the country. Ruth could see the synagogue from their house and saw what happened after vandals threw a smoke bomb into the second floor women’s gallery.. A female American journalist came to the house and Hella showed her the damage. The journalist said she would write about it, but nobody would believe it. The library of the Theological Seminary was housed in their building and one day a German SS lieutenant colonel, came to their apartment to get the keys. He said that he was selecting the most precious manuscripts for a future museum to the extinct Jews. The rest of the books were taken away as well.
    Ruth’s life changed quickly. The non-Jewish children ignored her and she could no longer check out books from the library. By May, Ruth could no longer attend public school, and switched to a Jewish school. Markus often was forced to scrub the Austrian election insignia on the streets. On the morning of the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 9-10, German SA groups assembled on the family’s block. The caretaker of the apartment building told Hella to leave and find a safe place for the children. Hella took them to a paternal aunt’s home in the suburbs. When she returned, she found that Markus and the housekeeper had been arrested and the apartment sealed. German authorities forced Ruth’s aunt out of her apartment and told her to take the children back to their parents. The next day, the aunt brought Ruth and Walter back and all they could see was a line of fire engines. The inside of the synagogue was burned, the stained glass windows were broken, and valuable objects were looted. A neighbor waved them upstairs, and later they saw Hella out of the window. Their housekeeper, Marie, who was non-Jewish, was released from jail, but Markus was transferred to Dachau concentration camp. After thirty-six hours, he was released on the condition that he leaves the country. On November 20, after the Jewish community intervened, the family was allowed to return to their apartment, but they found that all of their belongings were gone.
    Markus arranged to send Ruth and Walter on the first Kindertransport [Children’s Transport] to the Netherlands on December 10. They lived in an empty school in The Hague that was converted into a dormitory and were quarantined for six weeks. They received clothing, inoculations, and physical examinations. One of Markus’ brothers lived in Vienna with his wife and child; another brother lived with his family in Krakow, Poland. They later lived in a suburb, with plans to return to Vienna and obtain visas for England. After the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939, Ruth and Walter returned to The Hague and began school. Ruth frequently corresponded with her parents in Vienna. In October, a Dutch official took them to the German embassy in Amsterdam for their passports and the American consulate for their green cards. Their mother learned that neighbors were going to be on a ship leaving Rotterdam on October 16, and she repeatedly contacted the Dutch government to let her children travel with the. They arrived in New York on October 26. The children lived with their aunt in Brooklyn. Hella and Markus sailed on the last ship to leave Trieste, Italy, and arrived in New York on November 17. The family settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
    The family later found out that their family members living in Poland had been brought into the synagogue and shot. Of the family members who stayed on Europe, only one cousin survived. Ruth married Milton Zimbler on June 1, 1958, and they had two children. Markus passed away, age 70, on November 16, 1961. Hella passed away, age 95, on November 20, 1991.

    Physical Details

    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Handkerchiefs (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, discolored white, sheer silk handkerchief printed with small green dots and finished edges with light green thread. The name RUTH is underlined and embroidered in green thread at an angle in the lower right corner. There are 2 dark brown stains and 4 circular brown marks, 3 with holes, resembling cigarette burns, in each quadrant. The marks may have aligned when the cloth was folded along the deep creases.
    overall: Height: 10.000 inches (25.4 cm) | Width: 8.750 inches (22.225 cm)
    overall : silk, thread
    front, lower right corner, embroidered, green thread : RUTH

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The embroidered handkerchief was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Ruth Mondschein Zimbler in 2011.
    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:
    2022-07-28 21:56:04
    This page:

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