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Gold 4-leaf clover charm buried and recovered postwar by a Hungarian Jewish girl

Object | Accession Number: 2003.158.2

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    Gold 4-leaf clover charm buried and recovered postwar by a Hungarian Jewish girl

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    Brief Narrative
    Gold charm with a green clover given to five-year-old Erika Taubner by her paternal grandmother, Katie Taubner, in 1937 in Budapest, Hungary. Her parents Jozsa and Zoltan later buried the charm, her ring 2003.158.1, and other valuables in May 1944 in the dirt basement of their apartment, beneath the storage locker of the non-Jewish building superintendent, so they would not fall into German hands. The items were recovered by Erika and her parents in 1945. Nazi Germany occupied Hungary in March 1944. In May, Zoltan was interned in a Shell Oil forced labor camp near Budapest. Erika and Jozsa had to move into a Jewish, yellow star building. In November 1944, they found work in a military uniform factory. Josza got Swiss protective papers for Zoltan, which later kept him from being deported. In December, Josza and Erika escaped during a Nazi raid on the factory. They went to their former housekeeper, Ilonka Takats, who agreed to hide them. They were in Pest which was liberated by the Soviet Army on January 15, 1945, and were soon reunited with Zoltan.
    received:  1937
    recovered:  1945
    received: Budapest (Hungary)
    recovery: Budapest (Hungary)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Erika Gold
    Subject: Erika Gold
    Erika Taubner was born on August 29, 1932, in Budapest, Hungary, the only child of Zoltan and Jozsa Kovacs Taubner. Zoltan, the youngest of seven children, was born on April 27, 1901, in Budapest, to Markus and Katalin (Katherine) Hoffmann Taubner. Zoltan’s family was Jewish, but assimilated. Erika’s mother Jozsa was born on February 24, 1906, in Galanta, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), to an Orthodox Jewish couple, Sandor (Alexander) and Sarolta (Charlotte) Neumann Kovacs. Alexander was born on April 25, 1869, in Galanta, to Joseph and Fannie Brueck Kovacs. Sarolta was born in 1878. Jozsa had five siblings: Yoland (1902-1984), Paul (1904-1997), Erno (1908-1943), Eugene (1910-1943), and Imre (1913-2000). Zoltan and Jozsa married in 1930. Zoltan owned a haberdashery, which he inherited from his father. Erika’s family was observant and attended synagogue services weekly. Erika attended a Jewish elementary and high school. They employed a live-in, non-Jewish housekeeper, Ilonka Takats. Zoltan’s parents and siblings lived in Budapest and they saw each other weekly. Erika spent the holidays and summer vacations in Galanta with Jozsa’s family.

    Hungary was a close ally of Nazi Germany. In November 1938, Hungary acquired Galanta, as a result of the First Vienna Award. On March 15, 1939, Germany annexed the Bohemia and Moravia provinces of Czechoslovakia. Its allies absorbed other areas, and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. Some relatives fled and stayed with Erika’s family. In April, Erika’s maternal uncle Paul, his wife, and daughter left for the United States. One of Erika’s paternal aunts also went to the US. In July, while Erika was in Galanta with her grandparents, Zoltan was taken for forced labor service for six months. In September 1939, the war began when Germany invaded Poland. Refugees arrived from other countries and talked about what happened when Germany invaded a country, but Erika and her family did not believe it would happen in Hungary. On March 18, 1944, Erika’s maternal grandmother Sarolta died. Erika and her parents went to Galanta to sit shiva. The next day, March 19, Germany occupied Hungary. Zoltan was supposed to take Erika home, but they heard that people were being arrested at the train station, so Zoltan returned to Budapest alone. Erika and her mother remained in Galanta for two to three weeks before returning home. Anti-Semitic restrictions were enacted almost immediately. Erika was no longer allowed to attend school. Ilonka, the housekeeper, was forced to leave, as she was not permitted to work for a Jew. The family store was confiscated. On April 1, Erika and her family had to begin wearing Star of David badges. In April or May, Zoltan was taken for forced labor service at a Shell Oil Company factory. It was near Budapest and Zoltan was able to visit. In the summer, Erika and her mother had to leave their home and move to a Jewish building marked with a Jewish star. They moved in with Jozsa’s aunt, Bella Kramer, her husband, and Bella’s sister and her family. They were only allowed out on the street for two hours a day, and had to spend the rest of their time in the crowded apartment. Erika became disgusted by the increasing rules and regulations. She rebelled by removing her Star of David badge and going to an ice cream shop. Erika’s maternal grandfather Sandor traveled to Budapest after getting a permit to see a doctor. Jozsa asked him to stay with them, but he felt responsible for the other Jews in Galanta and returned on July 9. Shortly after, they received a telegram from him that said he was being resettled.
    On October 15, the fascist Arrow Cross party overthrew the Horthy regime after Horthy announced he was going to make peace with the Allies. Shortly after, all women ages 16 to 40 were ordered to report to the authorities. Erika’s mother went, but was not taken because there were too many people to process. Jozsa decided that she would not report again. A cousin told her that there was a job available in a uniform factory, and that the workers were exempt from deportation because it was war work. In early November, Erika and Jozsa began working in the factory. Erika sewed buttons onto the uniforms. They lived in the factory and slept on the uniforms. Jozsa received a letter from Zoltan, saying that he was going to be deported. Jozsa was distraught, but another woman helped Jozsa get a Swiss protection paper for Zoltan. On December 1, the authorities arrived and took everyone from the factory. They were loaded into trucks that drove around Budapest for hours. Erika and Jozsa tried to escape when they had to get off the truck so it could go up a hill, but they were stopped. At dusk, the truck stopped in a busy marketplace. Jozsa jumped off the truck and winked at Erika, indicating that she should follow. They walked away from the truck and were not noticed. They removed their rain coats with the Star of David badges and walked to the home of their former housekeeper Ilonka in Pest. She agreed to let them hide with her. When she had relatives visit, Erika and Jozsa hid in the closet or under the bed. They were concerned that Ilonka’s daughter might say something about them, but she did not. On January 15, 1945, Erika and Jozsa were liberated when Soviet soldiers arrived at Ilonka’s apartment building. They took over Ilonka’s apartment to use as their headquarters. On January 18, the Soviets liberated Erika’s father Zoltan in the Budapest ghetto. Zoltan had been saved by the Swiss protection paper. He was taken off the deportation train and put in the ghetto. Zoltan left the ghetto and found Erika and Jozsa later that day. The family returned to their old apartment. There was no electricity or water but their belongings were still inside. All the windows were broken except for one in the bathroom, so they slept there because the rest of the apartment was too cold. In February, the rest of Budapest was liberated by the Soviets. Erika’s family repaired their apartment and reopened their store. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7.
    Erika and her family learned that many of their extended relatives did not survive. In July 1944, Erika’s maternal grandfather Sandor, maternal aunt Ella Pressburger Kovacs, and her two children Laszlo (b. 1939) and Joseph (b. 1942), were deported to Auschwitz and killed. Erika’s maternal uncle Eugene and his wife Hertha also died in Auschwitz. Her maternal uncle Erno was shot and killed in a work camp on January 3, 1943, which was witnessed by his brother Imre. Three of Erika’s paternal cousins were deported and two perished. In total, 44 members of their family perished. Zoltan’s immediate family survived in the Budapest ghetto. Due to the rising Communist presence in Hungary, the family decided to immigrate to the US. In May 1948, they went to Havana, Cuba. They lived in Cuba for almost two years, waiting for their American visas. Erika attended an American school to learn English. Erika and Jozsa received visas before Zoltan, because Galanta had become part of Czechoslovakia again, and the Czech quota was better. Erika arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, in March 1950, joining her maternal aunt, Julia Yoland Fleischer, and maternal uncles, Paul Kovacs and Imre Kovacs. Her mother arrived in June and her father in November. The family settled in Cleveland. Erika received a degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1956. On July 1, 1956, she married Richard Gold. The couple had two children. Erika worked as a medical technologist. Erika’s father Zoltan, 86, died on July 20, 1987. Erika’s mother Jozsa, 86, passed away on April 3, 1992.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Charms (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Gold four leaf clover shaped charm with a four leaf clover pained in green enamel paint on the center. It has engraved scroll-work around the edge. A bail is attached at the upper center.
    overall : metal, enamel

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The ring was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Erika Taubner Gold.
    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:
    2024-05-30 12:59:13
    This page:

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