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Esther and Roman Eisen photograph collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2005.231.1

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    The collection consists of seven photographs relating to the experiences of the Cygielberg and Eisen families in Łódź, Poland, before World War II. Also included in the collection is a wedding photograph of Esther and Roman Eisen.
    Collection Creator
    Esther Eisen
    Esther Eisen was born Ester “Tusia” Cygielberg on February 1, 1929, in Łódź, Poland to Falik Cygielberg (b. 1899) and Rozka Cygielberg (b. 1902). Rozka was her father’s second wife. He was previously married to Rozka’s sister, with whom he had a son, Zachariah Salek (b. 1915). Falik worked as a merchant. The family lived 11 Listopada 31 Street in Łódź, Poland.
    Following the German occupation of Łódź in September 1939, Falik fled the city. Upon his return he was several beaten. Tusia’s uncle, Mietek, who lived in the same apartment building, was shot and killed in the street for defending a humiliated Jew. Mietek’s wife, Rela, and daughter, Minia, became Falik’s responsibility.
    During this time, Tusia was responsible for standing in line to try to buy bread and other produce because her father felt that the Germans were less likely to bother a little girl. After the schools reopened, Tusia returned to school. However, one of her friends, Fredzia, had been killed by the Germans in one of their attacks on Jews.
    A few months into their occupation, Germans forcibly entered the Cygielberg apartment under the pretense of an inspection. Tusia’s parents and brother fled through the back door, but Tusia was told to stay. In January 1940, the Germans confiscated the family’s apartment. They had ten minutes to vacate the apartment but managed to take some clothing, bedding, and books. They were relocated to Drewnowska 11 in the Łódź ghetto. Tusia’s aunt Rela, cousin Minia, and their former maid moved into the family’s unheated ghetto apartment. With seven people crammed into a single room, there were frequent quarrels, spying, and anger, particularly regarding food rations. Tusia contracted measles.
    In the winter of 1940, the family observed Hanukah holiday. Her mother discovered a small package of dry and stale cookies on top of a cupboard, and Tusia received a food package from Jewish friends who were surviving outside of the ghetto due to their Soviet citizenship. Tusia’s mother divided all the food items from the package amongst all seven residents of the apartment.
    Aunt Rela and cousin Minia were given extra food rations due to their connection to a relative who was allegedly collaborating with the Gestapo. They did not share these extra rations with Tusia’s family, though Tusia was given a bit of soup by her aunt every day.
    When schools opened in the ghetto, Tusia began attending school number 25 in the 6th grade. Her school eventually moved from Franciszkanska Street to Marysin. After school, Tusia helped her mother make decorative pins to sell in the ghetto. Her father could not find work. Her brother, Salek, worked as a bookkeeper in a vegetable warehouse for a short period but was fired. He then found a job removing nails out of planks of wood. After her mother became extremely ill, Tusia worked in a hat-making workshop designing artificial flowers. During the late fall of 1941, Salek Cygielberg became quite ill. He informed his sister that he had seen his beloved from before the war, and was too ashamed to approach her. He planned to commit suicide but his father caught him and begged him not to end his life. A few days after the incident, on January 12, 1942, Salek Cygielberg died of hunger at the age of 26.
    A few weeks before the “Gehsperre Aktion,” cousin Minia and her mother contracted typhus and were hospitalized. Aunt Rela was released from the hospital but Minia was caught up in the deportation, and was sent with thousands of other Jewish children to the Chelmno extermination camp. Tusia’s mother was also selected for deportation. In August 1944, during the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto, Tusia and her father attempted to hide but hunger drove them to leave their hiding place. They were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp, and other concentration camps. Tusia was liberated in May 1945.
    Tusia returned to Łódź, hoping to reunite with family members. She was the only survivor. Tusia spend years in a displaced persons camp in Germany before immigrating to Israel. Her first husband was killed fighting in Israel’s War of Independence. She later met and married Romek Eisen, a childhood friend whom she had known in the Łódź ghetto.
    Esther Tusia Eisen is a well-known sculptor and poet. She designed the memorial to the Łódź ghetto in Israel and is the author of the book, My Mother Embroidered a Star for Me, which describes her experiences. Esther and Romek reside in Herzliya, Israel.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Esther and Roman Eisen photograph collection 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
    Łódź (Poland) Poland.

    Administrative Notes

    Esther and Roman Eisen donated the Esther and Roman Eisen photograph collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005.
    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 14:15:31
    This page:

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