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Silver and plastic teething ring rattle used by an infant who was placed in hiding by his family

Object | Accession Number: 2012.355.2

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    Silver and plastic teething ring rattle used by an infant who was placed in hiding by his family

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Silver and bakelite teething ring and rattle given to Alfred Munzer for his Bris Mila by his paternal uncle Emil Muenzer in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 1, 1941. The Netherlands had been occupied by Nazi Germany in May 1940. Alfred's father Simcha was ordered to report for labor service in May 1942. He managed to get himself committed to a psychiatric hospital to avoid deportation. His wife, Gisele, placed their two daughters, Eva, 6, and Liane, 3, in hiding with a Catholic family, the Jansens. In September 1942, nine month old Alfred was placed into hiding with Annie Madna, who lived across the street. After two months, Annie placed Alfred in the care of Tole, her ex-husband, who had custody of their three children. He was treated like a family member and cared for by Mima Saina, the family's housekeeper who was Indonesian, as was Tole. Gisele went into hiding as a nurse's assistant in the clinic where Simcha was a patient. That December, the Germans took over the clinic and Gisele and Simcha were arrested, put in forced labor service, and then deported to Auschwitz in June 1944. The couple keeping Alfred's sisters, Eva and Liane, had a fight and the husband reported his wife and the two girls to the SS. Eva and Liane were deported and killed on arrival in Auschwitz on February 11, 1944. Simcha was liberated in Ebensee in May 1945 but died there of tuberculosis in August. Gisele was liberated during a transport from Ravensbrueck when the train crossed into the Red Cross Zone on the Danish border managed by Count Folke Bernadotte in April 1945. She and Alfred were reunited in August. Alfred did not remember his mother and she stayed with the Madna family as they got reacquainted. In October, Gisele and Alfred moved to a nearby apartment. Mima was to have moved with them, but she died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Gisele worked as a seamstress and electrician and Alfred was enrolled in public and Hebrew school.
    Date
    received:  1941 December 01
    Geography
    use: Hague (Netherlands)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Alfred Munzer
    Contributor
    Subject: Alfred Munzer
    Biography
    Alfred Munzer was born on November 23, 1941, in The Hague, Netherlands, to Simcha (Siegfried) and Gisele (Gitel) Munzer. Simcha was born in early September 1904, in Kanczuga, Poland. Gisele was born on May 20, 1905, in Rymanow. The couple, distantly related cousins, met when they were teenagers. In the late 1920’s, Simcha moved to The Hague, where his brother Emil lived. He opened a tailoring business. Gisele moved to Berlin to be with her brother and sister and worked in their tailoring business. Gisele moved to The Hague in December 1932 and the couple wed that December 16. They had their first child, Eva, on July 10, 1936, and their second, Leana, on November 12, 1938.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. An SS controlled civil administration was established and systems were created to track and monitor the Jewish population. Jews were banned from the civil service and required to register their assets, and the next year, themselves. In August 1941, Jewish children could no longer attend public schools. Upon the advice of their Catholic neighbors Jo and Ko Van Luhrmann, the Munzers registered their daughters at a Catholic school. When Gisele got pregnant in 1941, her obstetrician advised that she have an abortion, but she was inspired by the Biblical story of the childless Hannah to keep the baby. The doctor was furious and refused to treat Gisele after that. They were unsure whether to hold a bris which would identify the child as a Jew, but they did so following the pediatrician’s recommendation that the child be circumcised. On May 21, 1942, Simcha was ordered to report to a labor camp and began to make arrangements for the family to go into hiding. He had a hernia operation to delay his deportation, then faked a suicide attempt in order to be admitted to a psychiatric clinic, Remarkkliniek. The Luhrmann’s, aided by two priests, Fathers Schulling and Lodders, sought hiding places for Eva and Leana. They were placed with the Catholic Jansen family in The Hague; the wife had a vision where the Madonna told her to take in Jewish children. Gisele approached a friend across the street, Annie Madna, and she took in Alfred in September. After two months, Annie took the infant to her ex-husband, Tole (1896-1992), who had custody of their three children: Willie, Dewie, and Robby, age ten. Tole was Indonesian and he had an Indonesian housekeeper, Mima Saina, who cared for Alfred, who they called Bobby, like he was her own child. She walked miles every day to get him milk and kept a knife under her pillow at night in case the Gestapo came. When asked, Tole said that Bobby was Annie’s illegitimate son and that her boyfriend did not want him around. Alfred was never able to leave the house or yard and had to hide in the cellar when there were unexpected visitors. Living conditions were very difficult in Holland in winter 1944; there was almost no food and they ate tulip bulbs mashed into pudding.

    After placing the children, Gisele went into hiding at the Remarrkliniek as a nurse’s assistant. On December 26, 1942, the clinic was raided by the Germans and the patients and staff, including Gisele and Simcha, were arrested. They were sent to the Spinoza house which the Germans used as a detention center in The Hague, before being transferred to Westerbork in January 1943. On February 20, the couple was transferred to Herzogenbusch, called Vught, where they worked as forced labor in the Philips factory. On June 3, 1944, they were transferred to Auschwitz, and separated. Gisele was sent to Reichenbach, where she made radio tubes at the Telefunken factory. After the factory was bombed on June 6, 1944, Gisele was sent on a forced march through several towns and camps: Zittau, Adelsheim, Binau, and in December 1944, arrived in Bergen-Belsen. In spring 1945, she was sent to Hanover, Stendal, Luebeck, Hamburg, and Ravensbrück. She was liberated when the train passed into the International Red Cross Zone at the Danish border on April 1, 1945, which was administered by Count Folke Bernadotte. She was sent to Sweden in May, where she recuperated with the Zohnem family. In August, Gisele returned to the Netherlands to find her family. She was reunited with Alfred in August 1945.

    They eventually learned what happened to their other family members. In early 1944, the couple hiding Alfred’s sisters had a fight and Mr. Jansen reported his wife and Alfred's sisters to the German authorities. Mrs. Jansen, Eva, age 8, and Leana, age 5, were arrested. On February 5, 1944, the girls were sent to Westerbork transit camp in northeastern Netherlands. They were transferred to Auschwitz on February 8, and killed on arrival, February 11. Mrs. Jansen was sent to Vught. Simcha was in Auschwitz when it was evacuated in January 1945. He was sent to Mauthausen, Gusen, Steyr, and Ebensee, where he was liberated by the US Army on May 4-5. Simcha, age 40, died of tuberculosis in a convent in Ebensee on July 25. Most of the extended Munzer family was also killed. Emil was discovered in hiding in Rijnsburg and deported to a camp. Gisele’s brother Abraham, his wife, and their son Norbert had fled Germany to Bolivia after Kristallnacht in November 1938. Gisele’s sister and her son Jossi were deported to the camps.

    When Gisele returned, Alfred no longer remembered his mother. Gisele moved in with the Madna family so that they could get reacquainted. In October 1945, Gisele was preparing to move out, accompanied by Alfred's foster mother Mima, when Mima died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Gisele and Alfred moved to an apartment. Gisele worked as a seamstress and electrician and Alfred attended public school. Religion was very important to Gisele so he also went to Hebrew school. In 1947, Gisele bought a cosmetics store in The Hague. She met an older Jewish man from Brussels and, in 1952, she and Alfred moved to Brussels so she could remarry, but it did not work out. In 1956, Alfred was sent to yeshiva in Aix-les-Bains, France. He and Gisele met in Austria in 1958 to visit Simcha’s grave before immigrating to the United States. They arrived in New York on July 25. Their immigration was sponsored by Max and Hela Van Der Pool. Hela was Gisele’s best friend; they had been together in many concentration camps. Alfred attended Brooklyn College, and then medical school at the State University of New York and Johns Hopkins, where he trained as a pulmonary specialist. He worked at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC, and settled in DC with his partner, Joel Wind, after leaving the military, continuing his career as a pulmonologist. He has remained close to the Madna family. Alfred has been honored for his volunteer work with the American Lung Association. He also volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and has shared his experiences with many community and school groups. His mother Gisele, age 96, died on May 24, 2001, in Bethesda, Maryland.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Toys
    Category
    Musical toys
    Object Type
    Baby rattles (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Baby teething ring and rattle made of a circle of orange bakelite with a silver teardrop shaped rattle attached by a clasp. One side of the rattle is engraved with an image of a seated dog. The other side has an engraved image of a dog, a Dachschund, standing and looking up at a cat perched upon a table.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.375 inches (8.573 cm) | Width: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    Materials
    overall : bakelite (tm), silver

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The teething ring rattle was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Alfred Munzer.
    Record last modified:
    2023-12-06 14:00:43
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn50948

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