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Tin pail made for one prisoner by another in Kaufering concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 1998.132.1

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    Tin pail made for one prisoner by another in Kaufering concentration camp


    Brief Narrative
    Tin bucket made in Kaufering concentration camp for 14 year old Shmuel Rabinovitz by the head tinsmith. It originally had a cover, but it was lost. The large size of the pail was very helpful for Shmuel. He was often able to get a larger serving of soup and he could keep his bread portion in it as well. Shmuel carried the pail with him on the death march in April 1945 when the Germans evacuated the camp because of approaching US troops. Shmuel and his parents, Yitzchak and Shulamit, were incarcerated in the Jewish ghetto in Kovno (Kaunus], Lithuania, after the Germans occupied the city in June 1941. The ghetto was taken over by the SS and converted to Kauen concentration camp in fall 1943. The Germans prepared to destroy the ghetto in the summer of 1944 and Shmuel and his family were deported in July to Dachau. Shmuel was then sent to Kaufering forced labor camp, a Dachau subcamp. He was liberated during the death march to Dachau on May 2, 1945. He was reunited with his parents at a displaced persons camp in Travisio, Italy in July. Four months later, they emigrated to Palestine.
    use:  1944-1945
    creation: Kaufering (Concentration camp); Kaufering (Germany)
    received: Kaufering (Concentration camp); Kaufering (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Shmuel Elhanan
    Subject: Shmuel Elhanan
    Shmuel Rabinovitz (later Elhanan) was born on February 12, 1930 in Kovno (Kaunus), Lithuania, to Dr. Yitzchak Elhanan and Shulamit Rosenblum Rabinovitch. His mother was born in 1901 in Minsk, Russia, and his father in 1900 in Kaunus. His father was named after his grandfather, the renowned Talmudist and Chief Rabbi of Lithuania, Rabbi Yitzchak Elhanan Spektor. Yitzchak left Kovno in the 1920s to study chemistry at the University of Berlin. He met Shulamit, who was studying the Montessori educational method. She had fled Minsk following the Russian Revolution in 1917. They married in 1924. Shmuel had two older brothers, Amos, born in 1925, and Binyamin, born in 1926. The family returned to Kovno in 1927 and Yitzchak went to work in his family's hardware business. The Rabinovitch' were ardent Zionists and the boy attended the Schwabe Hebrew Gymnasium.

    In April 1940, Shmuel’s brothers emigrated legally to Palestine via Moscow, joining their maternel grandparents. That June, Kovno was occupied by the Soviet Union. Jewish institutions were closed and property was confiscated. On June 22, 1941, Kovno was occupied by Nazi Germany. In early July, German mobile killing units, assisted by local Lithuanians, perpetrated a series of systematic massacres of the Jewish population in the area. On August 15, Shmuel and his family were forced into the sealed ghetto. Yitzchak worked as the deputy head of the German labor office under Lieutenant Gustav Hermann, who was known for his decency. Hermann left his deputy in charge of the day to day operations of the office, and Yitzchak was able to use his position to help his fellow Jews. At times, Hermann would inform Yitzchak of German plans for the ghetto, and he would forward the information to the Jewish Council. Shmuel attended vocational school and learned metalwork and woodwork. His Bar Mitzvah took place in the ghetto. The Germans were constantly reducing the size of the ghetto and, in October 1941, destroyed the section known as the small ghetto. Three weeks later nearly 10,000 Jews were taken to the area and shot. Shmuel also worked in the potato fields, but they were always hungry and Shmuel’s mother was convinced the family would not survive. A Lithuanian friend offered to hide Shmuel, but his mother refused. Shmuel also worked as a messenger for the Jewish Council.

    In the fall of 1943, the SS took control of the ghetto and converted it into Kauen concentration camp. A series of mass deportations sent thousands of residents to concentration and forced labor camps. During one roundup targeting children, someone told Shmuel to stand on a stool so he would look taller and older and not be taken. Shmuel and his family were deported on one of the last transports in July 1944 when the Germans decided to evacuate the camp. The family was put on a cattle car and taken to a camp near Danzig, then sent to Dachau in Germany. Shmuel and his father were sent to Kaufering labor camp, a subcamp of Dachau. The tinsmith there made him a pail and let him work as an apprentice. In April 1945, the SS began to evacuate the camp because of approaching US troops. Shmuel, Yitzchak, and the other prisoners were sent on a death march to Dachau. They were liberated by Japanese American troops on May 2, 1945, near Waakirchen bei Hauserdorf in Bavaria.

    Shmuel lived in Neu Freimann camp in Munich then went to a DP camp in Travisio, Italy, where he was reunited with his parents, Yitzchak and Shulamit on July 8, 1945. Shulemit has been imprisoned in Stuffhof concentration camp and liberated by the Soviet Army on March 10, 1945. The family was also reunited with Amos at the camp. He was a soldier in the third battalion of the Jewish Brigade, British Army, stationed there to help manage the camp. Shulamit was referred to "the mother of the letter" by members of the Brigade because of a letter she had written Amos in June 27, 1944, that had only recently reached him in the camp. In it, she talks of her hopes for her sons' future and tells him of how they lived despite the horrible conditions in the Kovno Ghetto, where they have been buried alive for three years. The family emigrated to Palestine four months later, on November 8, 1945. Binyamin was killed in 1948 while serving as a soldier during the War of Independence. His brothers had changed their last name to Elhanan in honor of his great-great-grandfather and Shmuel changed his name as well. Shmuel later married a woman named Zippora and had a son named Binyamin.

    Physical Details

    Metal containers
    Object Type
    Pails (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Lightweight silver colored tin pail with a rusted iron-alloy wire handle inserted, then bent upward, through a small circular hole in a rectangular tab nailed, then bent outward, on each side of the pail near the rim. The rim has been folded over and hammered around a circle of the same wire to shape and reinforce it. The single side seam and bottom rim seam are hammered flat; the base is slightly irregular. The pail is smooth, but mottled, with some scratches and corrosion.
    overall: Height: 7.000 inches (17.78 cm) | Diameter: 6.125 inches (15.558 cm)
    overall : tin, iron

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The pail was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998 by Shmuel Elhanan.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:10:59
    This page:

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