Winterstein-Reinhardt family photograph collection
The collection consists of 36 photographs and copy prints that document the experiences of two Sinti families, Winterstein and Reinhardt, before, during, and after World War II. The images depict family members, domestic life in Romani camps, and Romani musicians and dancers. One of the photographs was taken when the donor and her twin sister, Rolanda, were released to their parents for a propaganda photo shoot of Sinti parents strolling with their babies along the Domstrasse in Würzburg, Germany.
- Document Creator
- Rita Prigmore
Rita Reinhardt was born into a Sinti family on March 3, 1943, in Wurzburg, Germany. She had a twin sister, Rolanda. Their father, Gabriel, was born January 7, 1913, in Marbach into a family with a long musical heritage. He studied at a music conservatory in Stuttgart and played violin in a band with his 4 brothers, until the band disbanded in the late 1930s under restrictions established by the Nazi regime. The twins’ mother was Theresia Winterstein, born December 21,1921, in Manheim. Her parents met in 1941 when they were both performing at the Wurzburg Stadttheater. In 1941, several members of her mother’s family were brought to Gestapo headquarters where they were forced to sign sterilization authorization forms. They were threatened with deportation if they refused. Both Theresia and Gabriel were no longer permitted to perform at the Stadttheater. Before Theresia's sterilization was scheduled, she made a decision with Gabriel to get pregnant. By the time she was called in for the procedure in 1942, she was three months pregnant with twins. When this was discovered by the racial hygienists, she and her family were detained and an inquiry was sent to Berlin to determine what should be done. The response was that Theresia should be allowed to continue the pregnancy on condition that the babies be turned over to the clinic at the University of Wurzburg as soon as they were born. There, Dr. Werner Heyde, professor of neurology and psychiatry, and a key member of the Nazi euthanasia program, was conducting research on twins. Throughout her pregnancy, Theresia and Gabriel were under constant surveillance. The twins were born in the presence of Dr. Heyde at the University of Wurzburg. In the first few weeks after they were born, they were allowed brief stays at home with their parents, but otherwise were confined to the clinic. On one occasion, the twins were released to their parents for a propaganda photo shoot of Sinti parents strolling with their babies along the Domstrasse in Wurzburg.
In the second week of April 1943, Theresia and Gabriel received notice to report for deportation. Their daughters were not included in the notice, and Theresia and her parents went to the clinic to see them. When they arrived they were told they could not see the infants, but Theresia pushed her way in. She found only Rita, who had a bandaged head. She grabbed the baby and Theresia’s father smuggled her out of the building. Theresia was told by one of the nurses that Rolanda had died during experimental surgery that day, April 11. Rita had a one inch incision on the side of her head. The family fled, but within a day or two, the Gestapo caught them and took Rita back to the clinic. Her parents were no longer allowed to see her. Rolanda's body was released to her parents and they arranged for a proper Sinti funeral. Her head had incisions similar to Rita’s, apparently from an experiment to dye her eyes from brown to blue. Close to this time, Theresia was forcibly sterilized. Gabriel lost his job with the pharmaceutical company, but was not subjected to sterilization. They were not deported, though a number of other relatives were deported to Dachau and Auschwitz. On March 23, 1944, Theresia and Gabriel married. In April, Theresia received a letter from the German Red Cross instructing her to come and pick up Rita. The family remained together until 1947 when Gabriel's first wife, who had been resumed dead, returned to Germany. Gabriel decided to go back to her and had his second marriage to Theresia annulled. Rita remained with her mother. Throughout her youth and adulthood, she suffered headaches, blackouts, and other health problems attributed to the experiments at the Wurzburg clinic. Rita remained with her mother and her family and did not meet her father again until 1959. Rita married at 21 and soon after gave birth to a son and daughter. She and her family moved to the United States in the 1970s. After several years, Rita divorced her husband (and ultimately left her children, as well) in order to move back to Germany to help her mother run a Sinti human rights organization that sought to raise consciousness about the fate of the Roma during the Holocaust. Her mother died in 2007. Rita continues to work for the organization.
- System of Arrangement
- The collection is arranged as a single series.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The photographs were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Rita Prigmore.
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.
Record last modified: 2021-11-10 13:39:17
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn514896