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Gabriella Alter papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.443.1

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    The papers consist of photographs and documents relating to the experiences of Gabriella Knöbel (now Gabriella Alter), originally of Nowy Sącz, Poland, with the Teheran Children in Russia, Iran, and Palestine. Included are depictions of children in a school near Irkutsk, the arrival of the Tehran Children in Palestine, and former Tehran Children in Kibbutz Givat Brenner.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Gabriella Alter
    Collection Creator
    Gabriella Alter
    Gabriella Alter (born Gabrila Knoebel) was the youngest daughter of Yehuda and Zlata (later Zahava) Knoebel. She was born on June 6, 1929 in Nowy Sącz, Poland. Gabrila had two sisters: Ruta (b. 1921) and Shulamit (b. 1925). Yehuda was raised in a religious home in a semi-rural village, and Zlata grew up in a wealthy, assimilated home in Przemysl. The Knoebels were quite prosperous and engaged in many philanthropic works. Gabrila's father manufactured jam, and her mother managed a family-owned hotel where she also ran a restaurant for the village poor who otherwise could not afford to eat. Gabrila's parents traveled frequently, especially to Romania and Hungary to purchase fruit. The family was Zionistic. The children attended Safa Brura, a school whose language of instruction was exclusively Hebrew, and Zahava headed the local branch of WIZO. In this capacity she visited Palestine several times. Yehuda purchased a plot of land in Tel Aviv and obtained legal certificates for the family to immigrate to Palestine. However, World War II began before they were able to leave Poland.

    After the start of the war, the family fled east to the home of an uncle who lived in small village outside of Lvov (Lviv, Ukraine). One day, Zlata Knoebel was bitten by a dog while fetching water. The family left the village for Lvov so that she could receive treatment for her wound. While the family was there, the Soviets rounded them up along with other Polish refugees and transported them to Siberia. After a ten-day train ride, they arrived in Irkutsk. From there, they were taken by truck to a small village, where her father was put to work collecting lumber. The authorities eventually learned that Yehuda Knoebel was knowledgeable in the manufacture of jam, and they moved the family to the neighboring town where he could use his expertise. There, the family lived in an apartment, had plenty to eat, and the girls were allowed to attend school.

    After the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Knoebels were sent back to the lumber village, until the Soviets granted the Jewish deportees amnesty the following year and permission to leave Siberia. The Knoebel family traveled south in the hope of eventually reaching Palestine, but they only got as far as Samarkand, Uzbekistan. A deadly typhus epidemic broke out, claiming entire families. Friends of the Knoebels died leaving behind two children. At first the two orphans lived with Gabrila's family, but after Zlata learned that a transport was being formed to take children to Palestine, she enrolled the children in the transport along with Gabrila.

    The children were brought to Palestine via Teheran, Karachi and Suez and arrived on February 18, 1943. Gabrila settled in Kibbutz Givat Brenner. Her parents and older sisters remained temporarily in Samarkand. After the war, they returned to Poland. Yehuda and Zlata still possessed valid certificates to Palestine for themselves and Shulamit. They immigrated in 1946. However, since Ruta was over 18, she needed her own certificate. She immigrated shortly thereafter as a counselor for Youth Aliya. In 1950 Gabrila married Natan Alter.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged as a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    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.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Gabriella Alter.
    Record last modified:
    2023-03-10 09:22:06
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