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Baby blanket with an embroidered duck used by a hidden Dutch Jewish infant

Object | Accession Number: 2002.140.5

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Embroidered baby blanket used by Vera Reiss who as an infant was placed in hiding from late 1942 to May 1945. Vera was born in German occupied Amsterdam in March 1942. That summer, the Germans began mass deportations to camps in the east. In July, Vera’s father Salomon allowed himself to be arrested, to spare his wife Sophie and their infant daughter. Sophie and Vera went into hiding with Sophie’s cousin Cato and then were hidden separately in late 1942. Vera, now 9 months old, was sent to Baarn to live with Hermanus and Huberta Van Pelt, who knew Vera’s paternal grandfather Abraham. She was given a false identity as Vrouwke Peter, their niece who had survived the bombings. On May 5, 1945, the Netherlands was liberated. Vera was reunited with her mother, who survived in hiding with a false identity as a seamstress and housekeeper. Vera’s father was killed in Auschwitz in February 1943. Most of Vera’s large extended family was murdered in the Holocaust.
    Date
    use:  1942 March-1945
    Geography
    use: Baarn (Netherlands)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Vera Waivisz-Reiss
    Contributor
    Subject: Vera Waisvisz-Reiss
    Biography
    Vera Reiss was born on March 5, 1942, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the only child of a Jewish couple, Salomon and Sophie Duim Reiss. Salomon, called Sal, was born on January 24, 1902, in Amsterdam, to Abraham Hartog and Vrouwtje Duyts Reiss. Abraham was born March 2, 1875, in London, to a Dutch family. He was a well-known and prosperous merchant and owned a textile business in the center of Amsterdam. Vrouwtje was born August 17, 1876, in Amsterdam. Sal had four siblings: Hartog, called Harry (b. 1900), Jacob, called Jaap (1905-1944), Lehman (1907-1943), and Elizabeth Jeannette (b. 1909). Vera’s mother Sophie was born on August 7, 1903, in Amsterdam, to Wolf and Keetje Meijer Duim. Wolf was born August 16, 1856, in Amsterdam. Keetje was born March 15, 1858, in Groningen. Sophie had a sister and two brothers: Jansje (1885-1943), Mozes (1896-1944), and Salomon (1898-1943). Their father Wolf died on January 11, 1911. Sal and Sophie were married on December 23, 1936. Sal was a literary editor and devoted much of his time to charitable organizations. Sophie’s mother Keetje died on December 1, 1937.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. In 1941, Jews were required to register with the authorities. Large scale deportations to camps in the east began in summer 1942. In July, Vera’s father Sal allowed himself to be arrested, so Sophie and Vera would not be taken. He was sent to Westerbork transit camp. Sophie received a letter from her brother Salomon, who was also imprisoned in Westerbork. Salomon, his wife Rose Velleman (b.1904), and their daughter Kitty Jeanette (b. 1935) had gone into hiding, but they were betrayed and arrested. He wrote that Sophie should resist being arrested because of the terrible conditions, and that he was fearful of what awaited them. Soon after, German soldiers attempted to arrest Sophie, but she convinced them that she could not walk and that Vera was in poor health, so they let her go. Sophie decided to flee before they could be deported. For a short time, Vera and Sophie hid with Sophie’s cousin, Cato Duim, who married a non-Jew. In late 1942, Sophie and Vera were hidden separately. Vera, 9 months old, was placed in hiding in Baarn in Utrecht province with a Dutch couple, Hermanus Gerrit and Huberta Johanna van Wyngaarden Van Pelt. They were clients of Vera’s paternal grandfather Abraham. They also hid Abraham’s religious articles. Vera’s false name was Vrouwke Peters, but the Van Pelts called her Meiske, the Dutch word for girly. They said she was their niece who had survived the bombings. They lived near a large botanical garden where they would hide Vera if it seemed dangerous at home. They had a ladder which they hid nearby for this purpose. On May 5, 1945, the Netherlands was liberated. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7.
    Soon after liberation, Vera was reunited with her mother Sophie. Vera suffered from malnutrition and was hospitalized for a while. Sophie moved constantly while in hiding, living under a false identity as a seamstress and housekeeper. Vera and Sophie returned to Amsterdam. Vera’s father Sal had been deported on December 8, 1942, to Auschwitz and died on February 28, 1943, in Auschwitz-Monowitz. Almost all of Vera’s extended family was killed in Auschwitz: her paternal grandparents Abraham and Vrouwtje on December 7, 1942; her paternal uncle Lehman on January 9, 1943; her maternal aunt Jansje on February 26, 1943; her paternal uncle Jaap on October 12, 1944; her maternal uncle Mozes on March 31, 1944; and Mozes’ wife Rebecca Troeder (b. 1896) and their children Sara (b. 1923) and Wolf (b. 1928) on October 22, 1943. Vera’s maternal uncle Salomon, his wife Rose, and their daughter Kitty were killed in Sobibor on July 16, 1943. Vera’s maternal cousin Benjamin de Vries survived the war. He was active in the Dutch resistance and was the editor of the underground newspaper Het Parool. Vera’s paternal uncle Harry and paternal aunt Elizabeth also survived. The family had left many valuable belongings, such as jewels and stamp collections, with friends before deportation or going into hiding, but few items were returned after the war.

    Vera’s mother Sophie, 61, passed away on July 25, 1965. Vera married Herman Eduard Waisvisz, who was born on November 2, 1934, in Pangkalpinang, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), to Max and Eva Dejong Waisvisz. Herman’s family had fled the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies before the outbreak of war. Vera and Herman eventually immigrated to Canada, then the United States. They had a son, David (1967-2004). Vera remained in touch with the Van Pelts until their deaths, Hermanus circa 1960 and Huberta on December 10, 1970. Vera's husband Herman, 65, died on May 9, 2000.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Furnishings and Furniture
    Category
    Household linens
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, white cotton coverlet with a zig-zag, backstitched, light blue border at one short end. The outline of a small duck is embroidered in light blue thread with a yellow eye, wing, and feet. The duck’s leans over, its beak pointed at a small yellow oval with a light blue band, possibly a duckling. The cover has red browns stains and the back is discolored.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 46.125 inches (117.158 cm) | Width: 34.125 inches (86.678 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cotton, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The blanket was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2002 by Vera Waisvisz-Reiss.
    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 18:28:22
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn510988

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