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Prayer book

Object | Accession Number: 2005.175.2

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    Brief Narrative
    Prayer book given to Grete (Margarethe) Katz for her wedding in 1936/1937 in Germany. Soon after, Grete and her husband Walther Schoenfled left Nazi-ruled Gemany for Amsterdam, Netherlands. They had a daughter, Truusje on July 14, 1939. In May 1940, Amsterdam was occupied by Nazi Germany. In 1943, Walther and Grete, with four year old Truusje, were ordered to report for deportation to a concentration camp. A neighbor, Mimi Grimberg da Silva Rosa, a German Protestant, who had hidden Truusje before, found them in the schoolyard where they were being held and told the guard she had left something there. He let her in with her bike and as she went by the family, she picked Truusje up and put her in the basket, then rode out. She placed Truusje in hiding with a loving family outside Amsterdam, the De Bruins, who kept Truusje until the end of the war. Walther and Grete were sent to Auschwitz and killed. After the May 1945 liberation of the Netherlands, Mimi came and took Truusje away from the De Bruins. That summer, Truusje's maternal grandfather and uncle, Levi and Werner Katz, returned from Theresienstadt concentration camp. In November 1946, Truusje and her grandfather emigrated to the United States.
    Israelitisches gebetbuch hebräisch und deutsch
    Verbessert und durch viele neue übersetzungen vermehrt
    publication/distribution:  1936
    publication: Frankfurt am Main (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Trudy Katzer
    Author: J. Schwanthaler
    Publisher: J. Kauffmann
    Subject: Trudy Katzer
    Geertruida (Truusje) Simone Gittel Schoenfeld was born on July 14, 1939, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the only child of Walther Isidor and Margareta (Grete) Katz. Walther was born on December 12, 1906, in Kesselbach, Germany, where his parents, Simon and Malchen Katzenstein Schoenfeld, had a farm. He had two brothers, Moritz and Artur. Grete was born on February 27, 1909, in Ottweiler, Germany, to Levi and Berta Wolf Katz. Her father was a cantor and schoolmaster. Grete was the fourth of eight children and the family lived above the school. Following Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933, Jews were disenfranchised from German society. Walther was expelled from law school around 1935 because he was Jewish. Walther and Grete married in 1936/37 and left for Amsterdam. Grete’s parents and her brother, Werner, also emigrated there. Grete’s siblings, Nora, Siegfried, and Frieda left Germany for Palestine and Kathe, Robert, Ruth, and Lotte went to America. Walther’s brothers and their families emigrated to the United States.

    In Amsterdam, Walther sold handbags and worked for the Jewish Council. Grete worked as a milliner. Her mother passed away in 1940 of natural causes. In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Jews were soon segregated from Dutch society; many were imprisoned and, after 1942, many were deported to concentration camps. Their neighbor, Mimi Grinberg de Silva Rosa, a German Protestant married to a Portuguese Jew, was active in the Dutch underground. While working at the Jewish Council, Walther was told by a German official that they would not bother Jewish families that stayed together. Grete did not believe this and, in 1943, asked Mimi to hide Truusje as round-ups of Jews increased. Mimi obtained false papers for the family, but Walther would not accept them because he feared he would betray Mimi if he was caught. Around this time, Grete’s father and her brother were sent to Westerbork transit camp, and then deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Mimi placed Truusje with a Christian family in the countryside, but she had to be moved back to Amsterdam after she told the neighborhood children that she was Jewish. The night after Truusje returned, the Germans conducted a round-up of Jews and the family was ordered to go to a synagogue. They returned home after their names were not called but, later that night, the Germans raided their apartment and took Walther, Grete, and Truusje to a fenced schoolyard where they were held for deportation transport. Mimi found out where they were and got a marshall in the yard to tell her where the Schoenfeld’s were located. She then told the guards that she had left her wallet there, went over and put Truusje on her bicycle, and rode out of the field. Walther and Grete were sent to Westerbork on the next day, September 7, 1943, and then deported to Auschwitz. Four year old Truusje was placed with a Christian family for several weeks in Amsterdam, until they told Mimi that they would not hide her any longer. Truusje was sent to live with Pedro and Truus De Bruin in the city outskirts. The De Bruins were dark-haired like Truusje and told others that she was their niece from the country. They provided a loving home for Truusje and she stayed with them for the duration of the war. Truusje remembers how she stopped being afraid of airplanes as she and the de Bruin’s watched Canadian planes drop food packets in the yard.

    The Netherlands was liberated by the Canadian Army in May 1945. Mimi came to get Truusje who resisted. Mimi had to pry Truusje's arms from around Mrs. De Bruin’s waist. Truusje lived with Mimi, her husband, Theo, and their daughter, Franka. She entered school and began to learn English, but she cried all night in her sleep. Truusje’s grandfather returned in May 1945, but her parents had been killed at Auschwitz not long after arrival. Her grandfather gave her a silver Magen David (Star of David) on a chain and, when he tried to fasten it around her neck, she told him that she would not wear it; she was not a Jew. Soon after this, her maternal uncle, Werner, returned from Thersesienstadt with his wife, Kaatje (Kitty), whom he had married at the camp. Truusje went to live with them for about a year in Utrecht, then Arnhem. It was a difficult arrangement, but Truusje was able to visit Mrs. De Bruin during this time.
    In November 1946, she and her grandfather emigrated to the United States via Sweden aboard the SS Gripsholm. In New York, Truusje lived with her maternal uncle and his wife, Siegfried and Gertrude Katz. They adopted her and changed her name to Trudy Katz. Levi moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where one of his daughters lived, but after two years, he moved to Israel and settled in Kibbutz Na’an, where he died at the age of 86. Trudy became a college English professor, married, and had one son.

    Physical Details

    German Hebrew
    Object Type
    Prayer books (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    655 p. ; . ill. ; 18 cm.
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The book was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Trudy Katzer, the daughter of Grete Katz.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:11:11
    This page:

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