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Spielman family papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2005.359.1

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    Spielman family papers

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    The collection primarily documents the experiences of the Spielman family of Kraków, Poland after the Holocaust in Budapest, Bratislava, and the Gabersee displaced persons camp in Germany. Included are photographs from Budapest, Bratislava, Gabersee, and a small amount of pre-war family photographs. Documents include a Christian identity paper issued by the Polish Ministerium in Hungary to Simon and Czarna Spielman and their children Arthur and Helen under the false name "Nieczkowski", membership cards, birth certificate, citizenship papers, and a World ORT Union document. Most documents related to Simon Spielman, but there are several identification papers for Arthur Spielman.
    inclusive:  1897-circa 1949
    bulk:  1940-1948
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Arthur Spielman
    Collection Creator
    Spielman family
    Arthur (Menachem) Spielman was born on Dec. 10, 1928, in Kraków Poland, to Simon (b. 1900) and Czarna (née Stiel, b. 1902) Spielman. Arthur had two sisters, Helen (b. 1931) and Barbara (b. 1939). The family was Orthodox and Simon owned as shoe making business where Czarna also worked as the bookkeeper.

    Simon was born in Slovakia and considered a foreign national so the family was exempt from many anti-Jewish regulations. However, the family felt safer living among Jews and therefore moved voluntarily to the Kraków ghetto after it was constructed in March 1941. In June 1942, the Germans rounded up some 5,000 Jews from the ghetto including Arthur's grandparents and sent them to Belzec concentration camp where they were murdered. After this event, Simon decided that the family should leave the ghetto, and they escaped to a nearby town, Wola Duchacka, with the help of a Christian acquaintance. As foreign nationals, the Spielmans lived in an isolated farmhouse in a potato field, and Arthur and his father walked to work every day past a railroad track construction site that used Jewish forced labor. They always left food behind for the other Jews to retrieve. The family heard that the Wieliczka ghetto, where many of their relative lived, was about to be liquidated. Arthur walked 12 kilometers there to try to rescue his family and succeeded in bringing two younger cousins back with him, but the rest of the family was deported.

    In the summer of 1943 the Spielmans were robbed, and they made plans to escape to Hungary. The family split up, and Arthur left first. He was arrested in Slovakia and then smuggled into Hungary. He was sent to a synagogue in Joshiva where he ended up in an orphanage with other Jewish children. Arthur’s sister Helen and his cousin Miriam were in a girls’ orphanage in the same town. Their parents also were arrested after leaving Wola Duchacka. After their release, Czarna and Simon managed to obtain false papers under the name of Nieczkowski and moved to Miskolc in March 1944. There, they befriended a Polish officer who told them what had had happened to their children and offered to help get them out of the orphanage. He rescued them one at a time, and Helen was rescued on the day the rest of the Jews were deported from Miskolc.

    After their liberation by the Soviet army on December 3, 1944, Simon bought whiskey for the soldiers. It was a bad batch, and some soldiers became ill. Simon was arrested for sabotage and jailed for three weeks. After his release, he returned with Arthur to Kraków to try to find other relatives. After a pogrom broke out and survivors were attacked in the synagogue, they returned to Budapest, and then the family moved to Bratislava, where they stayed for six months before making their way to Germany. In Germany they stayed in the Gabersee DP camp for three years until they were able to immigrate to the U.S. in May 1949.

    Physical Details

    6 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged as two series. Series 1. Biographical material, 1897-1948; Series 2. Photographs, 1938-circa 1949

    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

    Administrative Notes

    The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Arthur Spielman.
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-01 11:41:52
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