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Handmade white armband inscribed Terezin worn by a female German Jewish inmate

Object | Accession Number: 2004.230.9

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    Handmade white armband inscribed Terezin worn by a female German Jewish inmate

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Handmade armband inscribed K.Z.L Terezin worn by Emma Jonas when she was imprisoned in Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp from November 1944 to May 1945. Currency was confiscated upon entry and scrip was distributed per a 5-tier rating or received for conscript labor while in camp. Emma was deported from Berlin and imprisoned in Theresienstadt in German occupied Czechoslovakia from November 1944 to May 1945. After Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, Emma, her husband Martin, and daughter Helga, 13, tried but failed to get visas for the family to leave Berlin. They then got Helga passage on a Kindertransport to England on March 2, 1939. Emma and Martin were arrested February 13, 1943, and taken to a series of detention centers. Martin died of heart failure on October 2, 1944. On November 24, Emma was deported to Theresienstadt and assigned as forced labor in the glimmer [mica] factory. Soviet troops liberated the camp on May 9, 1945. In July, she was moved to Deggendorf displaced persons camp in Germany. All of her family, as well as Martin's, perished in the camps. Emma was reunited with Helga in England in 1947.
    Date
    use:  1944 November-1945 May
    Geography
    use: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Helga Carden
    Contributor
    Subject: Emma Jonas
    Subject: Helga Carden
    Biography
    Emma Pariser was born on December 14, 1889, in Inowraclaw, Germany (now Poland) to Albert and Rosalie David Pariser. Albert was born on March 10, 1862, in Tremessen, Germany, and died in 1904 in Hohensalza. Rosalie was born January 5, 1864, in Strelno, Germany, and died in 1902. Emma had three sisters: Clara, Gertrude, and Helcha. Albert and Rosalie owned a clothing store and, after their deaths, the sisters took it over. On May 7, 1919, Germany had to return Posen to Poland, in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles. Emma moved to Berlin where she opened a ladies undergarment franchise called Etna. She remet Martin Jonas, formerly a watchmaker, now a businessman. They had known each other as children and married in 1924. Martin was born on June 5, 1885, in Lobzenica, to Beta Ehrlich and Jakob Jonas. He had two brothers, Oscar and Siegfried, and a sister, Clara. He had a serious heart ailment contracted during his service in the German Army in World War I (1914-1918). The couple had a daughter, Helga, on June 4, 1925. The family did not keep a kosher home, although Emma and Helga went to temple and observed Shabbat.

    In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor and Jews were subject to persecution and multiple legal restrictions. In 1937, Helga was forced to leave public school and attend a Jewish school. During the November 9-10, 1938, Kristallnacht pogrom, the family watched from their apartment window as the pharmacy across the street was vandalized. Living solely on Martin’s army pension, money was scarce and they rented out rooms to Jewish tenants. Emma and Martin could not obtain visas to leave Germany due to Martin’s illness and because his assets had been frozen by the government. They arranged for Helga to leave on a Kindertransport to England on March 2, 1939. She lived with the Posnansky family, a wealthy Orthodox Jewish family with three children. Helga wrote her parents each week and they called on her birthday. After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, they could only send messages of 25 words through the Red Cross. They had not yet been deported because they had been born in German-claimed territory and because of Martin’s disabled veteran status from his service in the German Army.

    On February 13, 1943, the Gestapo arrested Emma and Martin at their apartment and took them to a detention center. The apartment was sealed and then sold. On March 9, 1943, they were in a detention center on Gerlach Street when Martin became ill. A newly arrived deportee, Dr. Ritter, gave Martin medication and arranged for him to be admitted the next morning to the Jewish Hospital. Martin had a build up of fluid around his heart that had to be aspirated. In accordance with a policy issued by Adolf Eichmann, gravely ill Jews between 55-65 years were not to be deported to ghettos or concentration camps. Thus, Martin, with Emma, was placed in a succession of nursing homes and detention centers. In June, a seriously ill Martin was transferred back to the Jewish Hospital. Emma went with him and was assigned to iron hospital laundry without pay. Martin died on October 2, 1944. He was buried in a Jewish cemetery in an area for soldiers, the last veteran to be buried there. Emma attended. She had planned to escape while at the funeral, but decided against it. She sent Helga a letter telling her that Martin had died and that she, Emma, was going on a journey. On October 10, Emma was moved to the police facility at the hospital.

    On November 24, 1944, Emma was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. She lived in Barrack #3. She worked the night shift in the glimmer [mica] factory, splitting the mineral glimmer into thin slices to be used as electrical insulation for airplanes. The women often sliced their fingers with the sharp tools and could not stop working until they met their daily quota. Those who had to work late would then miss their evening food ration. Emma wrote many poems about her work, thoughts, and emotions while in Theresienstadt. She was often depressed and considered suicide, but the other prisoners would stay with her to help her through these periods. Theresienstadt was liberated by Soviet troops on May 9, 1945. The International Red Cross came to the camp and brought matzoh for Passover. On July 11, Emma was moved to Deggendorf displaced persons camp in Germany. She learned that her only sister still alive when the war began had perished in the camps, as did all of Martin's siblings.

    Emma’s sister Gertrude and all of Martin’s siblings were murdered in the Holocaust. In 1947, Helga, now a nurse, heard that her mother’s name was on a list at a refugee center. The women were reunited in England. Helga was excited to see her mother again and Emma told her that it was the hope of seeing Helga again that made her survive. It was at times a difficult reunion. Helga was torn between Emma and her English family. Helga felt that she had become English and did not want to go back to being German. She took Emma to meet the Posnansky family and they celebrated Yom Kippur together. She and Emma shared an apartment. On August 2, 1957, Helga left England on the Empress of England for a job in Montreal, Canada. Emma arrived eight months later. They moved to California in 1962 where Helga worked as a member of a pioneering open heart surgery team. Helga married John Carden on May 16, 1971. Emma, 81, died in August 1971.
    Helga Jonas was born on June 4, 1925, in Berlin, Germany, to Emma Pariser and Martin Jonas. Emma was born on December 14, 1889, to Rosalie David and Albert Pariser, in Inowraclaw, Germany (now Poland). Emma had three sisters, Clara, Gertrude, and Helcha. Her parents owned a clothing store. Her mother died in 1902 and father in 1904, and the sisters took over the store. Martin was born on June 5, 1885, to Berta Ehrlich and Jakob Jonas in Tremessen, Germany. He had two brothers, Oscar and Sigfried, and a sister, Clara. He served in the German Army in World War I (1914-1918) and contracted a serious heart ailment. On May 7, 1919, Germany had to return Posen to Poland in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles. As a result, Emma and Martin moved to Berlin separately. Martin became a businessman and Emma opened Etna, a ladies undergarment store. They met again and married in 1924. The family did not keep a kosher home, but Emma and Helga went to temple and observed Shabbat. Helga attended public school where a Jewish teacher taught Hebrew and Jewish subjects twice a week. Helga spent the summers with her Aunt Clara in Danzig (Gdansk, Poland).
    In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor and, by the summer, the Nazi dictatorship was well established and all Jews lost their civil rights. Helga’s first experience with anti-Semitism took place when she was not permitted to swim in a public pool or perform with her gymnastics team at the 1936 Summer Olympics. Antisemitic propaganda was everywhere: she saw Hitler Youth, anti-Jewish posters, and swastika banners in the streets. One day, she was driving with her father and they stopped to let a parade pass and saw Hitler ride by in a Mercedes; people lined the streets, saluting in adoration. In 1937, Helga was forced to leave the public school and attend a Jewish school. She had a non-Jewish friend whose father was a high-ranking Nazi official. The family knew she was Jewish but accepted her and invited her for Christmas.
    Summer 1938 was the last one she spent in Danzig. Some Polish children called her a dirty Jew and she got into a lot of fights. During the November 9-10, 1938, Kristallnacht pogrom, on the way to school, Helga saw a temple burning and the broken windows of a Jewish furrier. That night, the family watched from their apartment window as the pharmacy across the street was vandalized. Living solely on Martin’s army pension, money was scarce and the family rented out rooms to Jewish tenants. Emma and Martin could not obtain visas to leave Germany due to Martin’s illness and because the government had frozen his assets. They arranged for Helga to leave Germany on a Kindertransport to England. Before she left, Helga visited her relatives and her Uncle Oscar gave her a gold bracelet. Her parents took her to the train station on March 2, 1939. She took one suitcase and a stuffed monkey. Helga and 200 other children arrived in Holland and boarded a boat for England. She arrived in London and lived with a German family, the Epses, acquaintances of her family, for one week, until they found her a foster family.
    Helga then went to live with Anne and Jack Posnansky, wealthy Orthodox Jews with 3 children: Tony, Beryl, and Jillian. The house was large, with gardens, servants, a nanny, and tennis courts, and looked like a park to Helga. The family observed Shabbat, high holidays, and kept kosher. Helga was determined to fit in; she attended school and quickly learned English and English mannerisms. She wrote her parents each week and they called on her birthday. They had not yet been deported due to Martin’s service in the German Army and because both were from German claimed territory. After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Helga could only send messages of 25 words through the Red Cross.
    In 1942, Helga had left the Posnansky family to attend nursing school. She got her nursing certificate and a job as a surgical nurse. Her last letter from Emma, written on an envelope scrap, informed her that her father had died on October 2, 1944, in a hospital, from his heart condition, and that her mother would be going on a journey. Helga knew Emma meant that she was about to be deported.
    The war ended in May 1945 and Helga had no news about her mother. In 1947, Helga heard that her mother’s name was on a list at a refugee center and they were reunited. Emma had been deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia which was liberated on May 9, 1945. In July, she had been moved to Deggendorf displaced persons camp in Germany. Helga was excited to see her mother, who told her that she had survived mainly to see her again. But Helga was torn between Emma and her English family. Helga felt that she had become English and she did not want to go back to being German. She brought Emma to meet the Posnansky family and they celebrated Yom Kippur together. She and Emma shared an apartment. Martin's three siblings had perished in the camps; two of her mother's sisters had died before the war and her remaining sister perished in a camp. On August 2, 1957, Helga left England on the Empress of England for a job in Montreal, Canada. Emma arrived eight months later. They moved to California in 1962 where Helga worked as a member of a pioneering open heart surgery team. Helga married John Carden on May 16, 1971. Emma, 81, died in August 1971.

    Physical Details

    Language
    Czech
    Classification
    Identifying Artifacts
    Category
    Armbands
    Object Type
    Armbands (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, discolored, white cloth armband with a narrow red border made from a separate folded strip of cloth sewn to the underside of one long edge. The front has the Czech camp name handwritten in blue ink across the center. There is a circular stamp in green ink with Czech text circling the inner border; in the center is an image of a caduceus, a snake wrapped around a pole. The short ends are sewn together to form the band and are reinforced on the interior with a basting stitch. The long edges are finished; the shorts ends are not and the top stitches are detached.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 2.750 inches (6.985 cm) | Width: 6.875 inches (17.463 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cloth, ink
    Inscription
    front, handwritten, purple ink : K.Z.L. / TEREZÍN
    front, around inner border of seal, stamped, gold ink : [SAMO]SPRAVA BÝV. GHE[T]A TEREZINA / ZDRAVOTNICTVI [LOCAL GOVERNMENT THERESIENSTADT / HEALTHCARE]

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The Theresienstadt armband was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Helga Carden, the daughter of Emma Jonas.
    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:
    2022-08-16 16:08:34
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn515321

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