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Upright domed traveling wardrobe trunk used by an Austrian Jewish family

Object | Accession Number: 2004.628.2

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    Brief Narrative
    Trunk used by Fanny and Isidor Bieder and their daughters, 14 year old Frieda and 10 year old Gertrude, when they were forced to leave Vienna, Austria in January 1939. They shipped it to Haifa, Palestine, from Vienna in 1939 and used it when they eventually emigrated to the United States. It was purchased by them in 1933 for a cruise to Italy and Haifa, Palestine. After the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938, anti-Jewish laws were passed and Jews were targeted for persecution. Germans raided the family’s apartment, taking most of their valuables, and a little later, Isidor’s business was confiscated. During the November Kristallnacht pogrom, Isidor was arrested and beaten. As a condition of Isidor’s release from prison, he agreed to leave Austria with his family. They received their exit permits on January 16, 1939, and left for Haifa. After nearly a year, they sailed from there to Greece, then the United States, and arrived in New York City on December 18, 1939.
    received:  1933
    emigration:  1939 January
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Gertrude Bieder Meisner and the Estate of Gertrude Bieder Meisner
    Subject: Gertrude Meisner
    Subject: Isidor Bieder
    Gertrude Bieder was born on January 23, 1929, in Vienna, Austria, to Isidor (Cham Isak) and Fanny (Feiga) Wilde Bieder. Both of her parents were born to Jewish families in Golwice, Poland: Isidor in 1894 and Fanny in 1904. The couple married in Vienna, Austria, on July 6, 1924, where Isidor owned a successful retail business. Gertrude had an older sister, Frieda, who was born on September 11, 1925. When Nazi Germany annexed Austria on March 13, 1938, Germans looted the family’s apartment and took their money, car, and other possessions. Anti-Jewish laws were passed and soon Isidor’s business was confiscated. During Kristallnacht on November 10, Isidor was arrested and severely beaten. Fanny was forced to scrub the streets. The family's apartment was sealed and they never returned there. Isidor was released with the condition that he and his family soon leave Austria.
    The family received a permit to leave Vienna on January 16, 1939, after Isidor paid an expensive Jewish emigration tax. They travelled to Genoa, Italy, where they boarded the SS Esperia, arriving in Haifa, Palestine, on January 26. They lived in a room in a Jewish refugee resettlement center for several weeks; for the remaining months, they moved around the city. On November 20, 1939, the family sailed on the SS Andreas-Dorus for Piraeus, Greece. They transferred to the TSS Neas-Hellas and arrived in New York City on December 18. The family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. Gertrude married David Meisner and had two children. Her father passed away, age 83, in 1971. Her mother died, age 71, in 1975. Gertrude passed away, age 83, on February 26, 2012.
    Isidor Bieder was born on October 1, 1894, in Gorlice, Poland into a Jewish family. He had five siblings: Sahra, Malka, born December 11, 1912, Martha, born August 16, 1895, Heni, and Frieda, born August 6, 1911. Isidor married Fanny (Fiege) Wild, born November 2, 1904, also from Gorlice, on July 6, 1924, in Vienna, Austria. They settled in Vienna where Isidor developed a prosperous retail business. They had two daughters: Frieda, born on September 11, 1925, and Gertrude, born on January 23, 1929.

    Soon after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany on March 13, 1938, Germans looted the family’s apartment and confiscated their money, car, jewels, and other possessions. Anti-Jewish legislation was enacted and many Jewish owned businesses, including Isidor’s, were confiscated. During the Kristallnacht pogrom that November 10, Isidor was arrested and taken to the police riding school on Kenyongasse where he was severely beaten. Fanny was detained and forced to scrub the streets. The family’s apartment was sealed and they never returned there. As a condition of his release, Isidor had to agree to leave Austria with his family by a specified date.

    On January 15, 1939, Isidor paid the 25 % government tax on his remaining assets that was required of all Jews leaving Austria; he received a permit to leave the country the next day. They left for Italy and on January 20, they sailed from Genoa on the SS Esperia, arriving on January 26 in Haifa, Palestine. They lived in a small room in a resettlement center for Jewish refugees for several weeks and then in various temporary lodgings. Isidor was able to sell land that he had bought during a trip to Haifa with Fanny in 1933. The family left for Piraeus, Greece, on the SS Andreas-Dorus on November 20, 1939. From there, they sailed to New York City aboard the TSS Neas-Hellas and arrived on December 18, 1939. The family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. All of Isidor’s siblings perished during the Holocaust. Isidor passed away, age 76, on June 17, 1971.

    Physical Details

    English Italian
    Physical Description
    Large standing wardrobe trunk with a slightly rounded top covered with black leather or vinyl. The exterior edges have leather trim and 2 metal clamps. Black vinyl dust banding is attached to the front and back. There are vertical mahogany slats on all sides with curved brass fittings at the joints. Two slats cross over the top on the handle sides only. There are 2 burlap handles covered with worn, brown leather. On the front are 2 curved metal plates, 2 plated drawbolts, and a plated padlock hasp. The trunk opens outward from 4 butterfly hinges. On the left side interior are 8 cloth lined, wooden drawers with metal handles. The top drawer has a cardboard tray with 5 partitions. The center drawer drops opens from the top to form a shelf. The 3 bottom drawers have canvas belts riveted to each side. The cloth lined, right side interior has a metal rod with 2 removable wooden hangers and a white cloth cover that hangs from a horizontal metal rod to protect the stored objects. Each side has a vertical, wooden support with a rectangular wooden insert on the base, with 2 canvas belts held by leather brackets. On the left is a rectangular leather loop and on the right is a leather belt and 5 leather loops to hold small items. The exterior has multiple paper labels and a there are 2 stickers and letters and a number painted in white on the right side.
    overall: Height: 51.625 inches (131.128 cm) | Width: 24.625 inches (62.548 cm) | Depth: 22.250 inches (56.515 cm)
    overall : wood, metal, leather, plastic, cloth, paper, paint, ink
    exterior, left side, sticker, printed in light blue ink and handwritten in light brown ink : T.S.S. NEA HELLAS / Mr Isidor Bieder (handwritten) / CLASS PASSENGER III Class (handwritten) / DATE OF SAILING 25 XI 39 (handwritten) ROOM NO D63 (handwritten) / FROM (PORT) Piraeus (handwritten) / STATEROOM BAGGAGE
    exterior, right side, sticker, top, brown and black ink: B
    exterior, right side, top, white paint : I. B. / 9
    exterior, right side, sticker, light blue ink : ADRIATICA / SOCIETA. . . DI NAVIGAZIONE / CAR[I]N

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The trunk was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Gertrude Bieder Meisner, the daughter of Fanny and Isidor Bieder.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-10 14:06:28
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