- Brief Narrative
- Yellow suitcase with green trim and a small key used by 12 year old Marion Kaufmann when she and her mother emigrated to the United States from Holland in February 1949. Marion's parents, Lina and Walter, owned an electrical repair shop in Berlin that was destroyed during Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938. They worked in a Jewish daycare center until 1941, when the orphans were deported and the center closed. Walter made preparations for the family to escape, but was arrested in October 1942. Six year old Marion and her mother Lina fled to the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, Dr. Max Knapp of the Dutch underground arranged separate hiding places for them. Marion was hidden with Boy and Mia Edgar in Amsterdam. She was arrested and sent to a transit camp for Jewish children in Amsterdam until rescued by the Edgars. They arranged for her to hide in various places near Arnhem: a convent in Malden, and the De Kleyn and then the Beelen homes in Overasselt. Marion was with the Beelen's from April 1943-September 1945, except for one month during the Allied Operation Market Garden in September 1944 when she was placed with a traveling group of Roma for safety. Lina was hidden in a home in Amsterdam that was raided. She then was moved to the Wesselius family farm in Oude Wetering. German soldiers were billeted nearby, and it was too dangerous to stay in the house, thus she was hidden in a haystack most of the time. The war ended in May 1945, and Lina found Marion at the Beelen farm in September. They eventually learned that Walter had died in Auschwitz in January 1943. Marion and Lina lived in Amsterdam until leaving for the US in 1949.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Marion Cassirer
Marion I. Cassirer
Marion Irene Kaufmann was born on November 28, 1936, in Berlin, Germany, to Walter and Lina Julius Kaufmann. Walter was born November 14, 1903, in Trier, Germany. Lina was born on February 15, 1907, in Schokken, Prussia (Skoki, Poland). The couple married on February 17, 1935, and lived in Berlin. Walter was an electrical engineer and they owned two stores that repaired and sold electrical appliances. They were observant Jews.
In January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Anti-Jewish laws were enacted and Jewish businesses were boycotted. During Kristallnacht in November 1938, the Kaufmann family shops were destroyed. Their synagogue was also destroyed. Lina and Walter got jobs at the Jewish Kinderheim, an orphanage and daycare center. They worked there until early 1941, when most of the teachers and orphans were deported and the kinderheim was closed. The couple was assigned to forced labor. Lina worked in a factory making field telephones and Walter worked at a railway station where transports of Jews left for camps. After Lina’s sister and her family, Hertha, Kurt, and Gerhard Abraham, were deported in spring 1941, Walter began making plans to escape Germany. He arranged to pay a German officer to help them flee to Switzerland. The German officer was caught and Walter was arrested at the railway station on October 2, 1942. Lina was told about the arrest and she took jewelry and valuables and left their apartment. She used the identity card of her friend, Emmy Erdmann, and removed the Star of David badge from her clothing. She took Marion to the home of Betty Wolff, Walter’s sister, in Trier, Germany. In Trier, Lina paid a man for information on how to escape into the Netherlands. She and Marion went to Aachen to cross the border. Lina paid a farm boy to help them through the barbed wire. They went to Maastricht, where Lina met with the priest of the Catholic church. He let them stay overnight and advised them to go to Amsterdam and find the Jewish committee. He took them to the station the following morning and gave them Dutch money. When they arrived in Amsterdam in November, they met Dr. Max Knapp, who worked with the underground. He and his wife Ans hid Lina and Marion in their home overnight and contacted the underground to find them more permanent hiding places.
Seven year old Marion was placed with Dr. George (Boy) Edgar and his wife Mia, who helped hide many Jews and non-Jews. Marion was called Renie, from her middle name Irene. She lived with them for three months. Mia arranged to have a friend bleach her dark hair, but in February or March 1943, she was arrested on suspicion of being a Jewish child. She was taken to a transit camp for children in Amsterdam, where she was constantly awakened at night and asked for her full name. She always answered in Dutch and said she could not remember her last name. She was only fed one bowl of watery soup a day. The Edgars arranged to sneak Marion out after six weeks. Boy took her to Nijmegen, where a school teacher picked her up and took her to a convent in Malden. She stayed at the convent for a few days, where they made her new clothes and taught her Catholic prayers. The underground moved her to the neighboring town of Overasselt, where she stayed with Hend and Mia de Kleyn.
In April 1943, Marion was moved to the farm of Jan and Wilhelmina Beelen in Overasselt. The Beelen’s had three sons and two daughters. Marion was treated as another daughter and was happy with the family, but food was very scarce, there were constant bombings, and she lived in fear of discovery. Many farms in the area were hiding Allied soldiers whose planes had been shot down, including the Beelen’s. Nazi patrols searched for soldiers and Marion had to hide in the hay loft of the barn with an Allied soldier with a broken leg. In January 1944, a wooden shoe salesman informed on the family and Marion was hidden in a hole under the living room floorboards. The Beelen’s were later warned that Nazi patrols were looking for a hidden Jewish girl, so they shaved Marion’s hair, dressed her in boy’s clothes and called her Rene. In September 1944, the town was liberated by Canadian paratroopers in Operation Market Garden. After a few weeks, Germans retook the area and Marion had to be moved because too many people knew about her. A traveling group of Roma took her in for about a month until they were liberated again in October and she was returned to the Beelen family.
Lina found Marion in September 1945. When Marion was sent to the Edgars in 1943, Lina was sent to live with six other Jews in one room. The house was raided and only she and Lotte Jacobs escaped. They went to the home of Lotte’s former maid and stayed with the Wesselius family in Oude Wetering for a year and half. The house had been requisitioned by Nazis so they hid in a haystack for months before they could they enter the house. The family brought food out to them. Lotte died, probably of starvation, shortly before liberation on May 5, 1945. Lina returned to Amsterdam, where Max and Boy helped her find Marion. Marion did not remember her mother and did not want to go with her. Lina stayed with the Beelen family for two months to get to know Marion before they left for Amsterdam in November. They lived in a displaced persons camp and Marion attended an Orthodox Jewish school, where she learned about Judaism. In February 1949, Marion and Lina immigrated to the United States, sponsored by Walter’s brother, Max Kaufmann. They settled in Seattle, Washington, and changed their last name to Kaufman and Lina’s first name to Lena. Marion met Ernest Cassirer and they married on November 25, 1955. They adopted two children, a son and a daughter. The couple divorced in March 1986 and Marion moved to Richmond, Canada in 1989. She remained in contact with the Beelen family throughout her life. Walter, age 39, died of pneumonia in Auschwitz on January 13, 1943. Lina, age 92, died on February 10, 2000, in Seattle, Washington. Marion, age 77, died on March 31, 2014.
- Object Type
- Physical Description
- a. Rectangular suitcase with a fiberboard lid with a wood frame and a wood base covered with plastic or plastic treated cloth, light yellow with a tweed pattern. There is light green faux leather trim with white stitching around the lid and base edges and the corners are rounded. All the hardware is brass colored metal. There are 2 key lock hasps on the left and right of the lid front and 2 keyhole lock plates on the base. The hasps are engraved on the back with manufacturing information. Between the hasp locks is a drawbolt without a catch. A green molded plastic handle with white painted stitches is attached to the base with square rings in metal hoop caps. On the back are 3 strap hinges with rounded metal feet. The interior is lined with light green satin, now stained, with a cloth panel covering the hinge. The bottom is lightly padded and the cloth has a white stitched chevron pattern. There are 4 gathered pockets in the same green cloth: 1 sewn to the lid and 3 sewn to the base sides. The exterior has scuff marks and the metal is scratched.
b. Small unmarked gold colored metal key with a circular bow with a circular hole in the top center. The key shaft has a squared shoulder, grooves on both sides, 2 ridges which form 3 notches, and a square end tip.
- a: Height: 7.000 inches (17.78 cm) | Width: 24.000 inches (60.96 cm) | Depth: 14.750 inches (37.465 cm)
b: Height: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Width: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm)
- a : wood, fiberboard, metal, cloth, plastic, thread, paint
b : metal
- a. lid, reverse of both hasps, engraved: Made in USA
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Topical Term
- Hidden children (Holocaust)--Netherlands--Biography. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Personal narratives. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Netherlands--Personal narratives. Jewish children in the Holocaust--Netherlands--Biography. Righteous Gentiles in the Holocaust--Netherlands--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Jews--Rescue--Netherlands--Personal narratives.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The suitcase and key were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Marion Kaufman Cassirer.
- Record last modified:
- 2022-07-28 18:26:46
- This page:
Also in Marion Kaufman Cassirer family collection
The collection consists of a suitcase and key, audio tapes, documents, newspaper clippings, and prayer book relating to the experiences of Marion Kaufmann and her mother Lina in the Netherlands and the United States after the Holocaust, during which they fled Germany and lived in hiding separately in the Netherlands. Some of these materials may be combined into a single collection in the future.
Contains Dutch newspaper clippings from Mar./April 1945: 28 Maart 1945, document entitled "Trouw"; newspaper clipping 13 April 1945 announcing the death of President Roosevelt and showing a map of the Allied march into Berlin, Germany; and a flyer imploring for all citizens to aid the Allied effort with any means necessary.
Contains identity documents, restitution paperwork, newspaper clippings, and other materials concerning Marion Kaufman (now Marion Cassirer) and her mother, Lina Kaufman, who hid in the Netherlands during the Holocaust with the help of a false identity papers provided by a non-Jewish friend, Emmy Erdmann. Marion was in several different hiding situations, including with the Edgar family, at a convent, with the Beelen family in Overasselt posing as one of the family's children, and with a family of Roma, Lina hid with the Wesselius family in Oude Wetering and lost contact with Marion for a few years, reuniting after the war. They emigrated to the United States by 1949.
Lena Kaufman (formerly Lina Kaufmann) discusses experiences relating to the Holland Underground from 1942 - 1945.
Psalm book given to Lina Kaufmann with an inscription by the Wesselius family who provide a hiding place for her from September 1943-May 1945 in Holland. Marion's parents, Lina and Walter, owned an electrical repair shop in Berlin that was destroyed during Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938. They worked in a Jewish daycare center until 1941, when the orphans were deported and the center closed. Walter made preparations for the family to escape, but was arrested in October 1942. Six year old Marion and her mother Lina fled to the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, Dr. Max Knapp of the Dutch underground arranged separate hiding places for them. Marion was hidden with Boy and Mia Edgar in Amsterdam. She was arrested and sent to a transit camp for Jewish children in Amsterdam until rescued by the Edgars. They arranged for her to hide in various places near Arnhem: a convent in Malden, and the De Kleyn and then the Beelen homes in Overasselt. Marion was with the Beelen's from April 1943-September 1945, except for one month during the Allied Operation Market Garden in September 1944 when she was placed with a traveling group of Roma for safety. Lina was hidden in a home in Amsterdam that was raided. She then was moved to the Wesselius family farm in Oude Wetering. German soldiers were billeted nearby, and it was too dangerous to stay in the house, thus she was hidden in a haystack most of the time. The war ended in May 1945, and Lina found Marion at the Beelen farm in September. They eventually learned that Walter had died in Auschwitz in January 1943. Marion and Lina lived in Amsterdam until leaving for the US in 1949.