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Ruth Wertheim papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.676.1

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    Ruth Wertheim papers

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    The Ruth Wertheim papers consists of three letters written by Ruth Wertheim following her liberation from the labor camp Marzdorf/Riesengebirge, and addressed to friends and relatives in Detroit, Michigan, 1945-1946. Also included is a newspaper clipping listing the "Nuremberg Laws," 1935.
    inclusive:  1935-1946
    bulk:  1945-1946
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Elaine Simonsen
    Collection Creator
    Ruth Bacow
    Ruth Wertheim (later Bacow, 1927-1994) was born in Giesen, Germany on March 28, 1927 to Leopold (1891-1944) and Emma Wertheim (1896-1944). Before the war, Ruth lived with her parents, her grandfather, and her older sister, Ingeborg Wertheim (1923-1942), in Londorf, Germany. The family was Orthodox Jewish, and was one of seven Jewish families living in the rural town. Her father and grandfather worked together as cattle dealers. Her father was a veteran of World War I, and had lost his arm in combat. In 1942, all the Jewish families in the town were sent to various concentration camps. On September 27, 1942 Ruth, her parents, and her grandfather were sent from Darmstadt to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where they stayed until October 1944. Her grandfather died at Theresienstadt. While in Theresienstadt, Ruth worked on a farm outside the camp and was able to smuggle vegetables to her family. At some point she contracted typhoid fever but eventually recovered. In October 1944, Ruth and her parents were transported in cattle cars to Auschwitz concentration camp. The family was separated during the selection process and her parents likely perished upon arrival. Ruth was in Auschwitz concentration camp for five weeks before she was sent to Marzdorf/Riesengebirge where she spun and wove silk for parachutes. As the Russians advanced, they could hear the fighting and the front approach. Eventually the labor camp was liberated by the Russians. Ruth walked to the American zone and was admitted to a hospital. After her treatment and release, she returned to her home town. Ruth already knew her parents had not survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, but she held out hope that she would be reunited with her sister. Prior to the family being sent to Theresienstadt, Ruth’s sister had been sent to work at an ammunitions factory alongside other Jews and French prisoners of war. Her sister was fluent in French and was used as a translator in the factory. One day she disappeared. After the war, Ruth discovered that her sister had been sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp (prisoner number 12636) and died of typhoid fever, a day after the war ended.

    Ruth lived with a German family that had moved into her family’s house, while she tried to contact extended family in America. Despite sending multiple letters, she never heard from them. In July 1946, Ruth immigrated to the United States. Eventually she married Mitchell Seldon Bacow (1915-2007) and they had Lawrence Seldon Bacow (b. 1951) and Elaine Simonsen. Over the years, Ruth maintained a friendship with at least one of her school girl friends who was with her at Auschwitz and Marzdorf/Riesengebirge, Gisela Eckstein Zamora (1928-?)

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Ruth Wertheim papers is arranged in 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

    Geographic Name
    Personal Name
    Bacow, Ruth, 1927-1994.

    Administrative Notes

    Elaine Simonsen donated the Ruth Wertheim papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 Elaine Simonsen is the daughter of Ruth Wertheim Bacow.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:12:49
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