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Gem micromatic safety razor and case given to a concentration camp inmate after liberation

Object | Accession Number: 1999.150.1 a-b

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    Gem micromatic safety razor and case given to a concentration camp inmate after liberation

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    Brief Narrative
    Gem safety razor and case given to 24-year-old Morris Rosen after his liberation from Theresienstadt concentration camp on May 9, 1945. Following the occupation of Poland by Germany in September 1939, Morris, his parents, and 10 siblings were interned in the Jewish ghetto in Dabrowa Gornicza. From 1942-1944, the Germans transferred Morris through a series of camps: a labor camp in Szczcakowa, Sosnowitz and Annaberg concentration camps, and Gruenberg and Kretschamberg labor camps. In early 1945, Morris was in Kretschamberg labor camp when the Germans decided to evacuate the inmates because of the Soviet Army advance. The inmates began a death march to Buchenwald in Germany, then to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, where they were liberated by Soviet forces in May 1945. Morris searched for his family, and learned that five of his siblings had survived. His parents had perished in Auschwitz. Morris lived for a time in the New Palestine displaced persons camp in Salzburg, Austria, and then emigrated to the United States in 1949.
    received:  1945 May
    use: New Palestine (Displaced persons camp); Salzburg (Austria)
    received: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp) after liberation; Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Morris Rosen
    a. razor head, front, engraved : GEM MICROMATIC / Clog pruf / REG. US. PAT. OFF.
    a. razor head, reverse, engraved : MADE IN U.S.A. / PAT. NOS. / 1739280 1773614
    b. lid, interior, center, stamped in gold ink : GEM / RAZO[R] / [?]A[?]
    Subject: Morris Rosen
    Moniek Rozen (1922-2020) was born November 10, 1922, in Czestochowa, Poland, but grew up in Dabrowa Gornicza, an industrial town in the western region. His mother was Golda Chaja (nee Warszawska). His father, Jakub, owned a general store and the only government license to sell tobacco locally. Moniek had a sister, Bluma (b. 1926), and a brother, Josek (b. 1924). He had eight half-brothers and sisters from his father's first marriage to Pola Frochwajg, who died in 1919: Israel (b. 1914,), Leosia (b. 1911), Rozka (b. 1913), Rubin (b. 1912), Ruchcia (b. 1915), Sala (b. 1917), Tamara (b. 1919), and Yehiel (b. 1910).

    Even before the outbreak of World War II, organized anti-Semitism was increasing in Poland. In 1938, a boycott of Jakub Rozen’s store put it out of business. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Moniek fled east, but encountered German troops near the Vistula River and returned to Dabrowa. He found a changed town; the German had murdered many Jews and instituted anti-Jewish measures, including forced labor and the confiscation of property. In early 1942, they moved the Jews to a ghetto there. Moniek and 2 of his brothers were put to work in the Mittelstrasse labor camp as carpenters, bricklayers, and painters. Roundups of Jews for deportation become increasing frequent. Moniek often hid on weekends in an abandoned police station.

    In early May, there was a large scale round-up of females, age 13-30; over 450 young women were deported, including Moniek’s 16 year old sister, Bluma, who was sent to a labor camp, Gruenberg, in lower Silesia. On August 12, German officials ordered the Jewish populace to gather in a field for new identity cards. Several thousand, including Moniek’s parents, were deported to Auschwitz. Jakub and Golda were killed upon arrival. In October, Moniek was deported to a labor camp in Szczcakowa. He was put to work in a leather factory. In September 1943, he was transferred briefly to Sosnowitz and Annaberg concentration camps, then in October to Gruenberg labor camp. There he was able to visit his sister Bluma in the adjacent women’s camp. In April 1944, Moniek was transferred to Kretschamberg [Kittlitztreben] labor camp.

    In February 1945, as Russian forces approached, the Germans suddenly evacuated the camp. They took the inmates on a death march eastward that lasted six weeks and arrived in late March at Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. There were mounds of bodies throughout the camp. Moniek witnessed one man committing cannibalism. In early April, Moniek was transferred again, this time by freight train back to the west, ahead of approaching American forces. Many people died on the trip. Those still alive lay on the bodies to stay off the cold floor.

    The train entered an area being bombarded by Russian planes. Everything around the train was in flames. Moniek thought, “Now I’m not afraid to die. At least I’ve seen the way it’s going for Germany.” He saw more bombs descending. He said the Sh’ma and braced himself, but the bombs struck elsewhere. The attack, however, left the train disabled, so the German soldiers forced the passengers to continue on foot. After two weeks of walking, they arrived at the Thereisenstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Early in May, Moniek was liberated by the Soviet army.

    His brother-in-law, Szabtai Klugman, found him in Thereisenstadt. He was the husband of Leosia, who had not survived the war. The two men traveled in Czechoslovakia and Austria searching for relatives. Moniek ended up in the New Palestine displaced persons camp in Salzburg, Austria. In total, five of Moniek’s ten siblings survived: Bluma, Israel, Josek, Rozka, and Rubin.

    Rubin had settled in Palestine before the war and married a woman from America. Moniek prepared to immigrate to Palestine to join his brother. As war loomed in Palestine in 1948, Rubin and his family left for the United States and settled in Baltimore. Moniek instead immigrated to the United States in 1949, joining his brother. In 1953, he married a native of Baltimore, Miriam Miller. They were married 47 years until Miriam died in 2000. They had two sons. Morris shares his personal experiences of the Holocaust and volunteers at the USHMM so that the world will remember those who did not survive.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Razors (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    a. Silver colored, shiny, metal safety razor with a slightly tapered, cylindrical handle with fluted vertical lines and 2 rings near the base. The handle attaches to the underside of the rectangular razor head. The base rotates to open and close the rectangular, smooth angled, hinged blade cover over the head. The head has a rectangular cut-out on either side and 2 rectangular openings near the closed comb, non-detachable safety guard on the lower edge. The head front and reverse have engraved English text.
    b. Rectangular silver colored metal razor case covered with worn, treated black cloth made to resemble leather. The hinged lid and base are nearly identical in size and have rounded corners. The interior is lined with dark blue cloth with the brand name stamped on the lid interior. The base interior has a metal insert with 2 recessed spaces: one fitted for the razor (a); the other is rectangular, probably for blades. The base lining is detached on the upper right corner.
    a: Height: 3.625 inches (9.208 cm) | Width: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm)
    b: Height: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Width: 4.000 inches (10.16 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    a : metal
    b : cloth, metal, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The razor and case were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1999 by Morris Rosen.
    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:
    2022-07-28 18:28:45
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