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UNRRA red cloth patch with acronym worn by a refugee aid worker

Object | Accession Number: 2005.379.3

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    UNRRA red cloth patch with acronym worn by a refugee aid worker

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Patch worn by Michel Shadur when he worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Germany from 1945-1947. He worked as a supply officer for the Wurttemburg district and as a director of a displaced persons camp for Jewish refugees in Backnang. Michel left Germany in 1935 because the Nazi government's anti-Jewish policies were making it difficult and dangerous to live and work there. His wife, their 2 children, 8 year old Joseph and 4 year old Benita, and his mother joined him in Antwerp, Belgium, in January 1936. However, after the Germans occupied Belgium in May 1940, the family was forced to flee once more. Traveling by private car, they eventually made their way to Lisbon, Portugal. They sailed for New York on board the SS Exeter on February 21, 1941.
    Date
    use:  1945-1947
    emigration:  1941 February 21
    Geography
    use: Backnang (Displaced persons camp); Baden-Wurttemberg (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joseph Shadur
    Contributor
    Subject: Joseph Shadur
    Subject: Michel Shadur
    Distributor: United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)
    Biography
    Joseph Schadur was born on April 23, 1928, in Riga, Latvia, to Manja (Masha) Hasenson and Michel Schadur. His parents moved to Berlin, Germany, in 1927, shortly after their marriage on June 12, but his mother returned to Riga for Joseph’s birth to be with her family. He had one sister, Benita, born in Berlin in 1932. They were not a particularly religious family, and attended synagogue only on theJewish high holidays. His father worked in the wholesale fruit industry. He travelled widely and was fluent in several languages. Hitler came to power in 1933, and by 1935, Michel’s business began to decline due to antisemitic boycotts and restrictions. That year while in Belgium on business, Michel decided not to return to Germany. With much difficulty, Manja obtained temporary tourist visas and she and the children joined him in Belgium on January 1, 1936. Michel was able to re-establish his business. The children attended a Tachkemonia Orthodox Jewish kindergarten and boys’ school. Joseph later transferred to a private French school. They spent the summer months at a children’s home in Oostduinkerke, where they explored the dunes and the bulwarks that remained from World War I.
    In May 1940, Germany occupied Belgium, and the family had to flee once more. They left by private car and reached Bordeaux before the French surrender to Germany in late June. For seven months, they managed to get by in Bruges, a country village near Bordeaux. With the assistance of Joseph’s maternal aunt, Gitta, who had emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1939, they received immigration and transit visas. The family left for the Spanish border on December 14, 1940. After two month in Lisbon, Portugal, they sailed on the SS Exeter to New York on February 21, 1941. From there, they proceeded to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Gitta and other relatives had already settled. The family changed their last name to Shadur.
    Michel returned to Europe for a few years in the immediate postwar period to work for UNRRA, the United Nations Refugee Relief Association, chiefly at Backnang displaced persons camp. Joseph attended the University of Minnesota. In 1950, he moved to Israel where he married Yehudit, who would become an internationally recognized artist for her rediscovery of the art of Jewish paper cutting. Joseph passed away, age 77, in October 2005.
    Michel Schadur was born on April 6, 1897, in Livani, Latvia, to Yeisef and Doba (Schender) Schadur, born 1868. He had one older brother, Isaac, who died in the Crimea in 1916, and two younger sisters, Gitta, born September 29, 1905, and Sonja, born in 1903. Michel attended the School of Mines and studied chemistry in Kharkov. In 1920, the family returned to Riga, and Michel continued his studies at the University of Latvia. He married Manja (Masha) Hasenson, born 1904, on June 12, 1927. Shortly afterwards, they moved to Berlin where Michel operated an international wholesale fruit business with his brother -in-law, Josef Hasenson. Michel travelled widely and was fluent in several languages. Another brother-in-law, Jacob Chankin, ran a banana import business; he was married to Manja’s eldest sister, Asya. His sister, Gitta, and their widowed mother moved to Berlin in 1931. Michal and Manja had two children: Joseph, who was born on April 23, 1928, in Riga, and Benita, who was born on June 3, 1932, in Berlin. They were not a particularly religious family, and attended synagogue only on the Jewish high holidays.

    Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and by the fall of 1935, the antisemitic boycotts and restrictions had undermined Michel’s ability to do business. While on a business trip to Belgium, Michel decided that it was better not to return to Germany. With great difficulty, Manja acquired temporary tourist visas for the children and Michel’s mother and they met him in Antwerp on January 1, 1936. Michel re-established his wholesale fruit business. In 1937, he became director of Overseas Fruit, in partnership with a prominent Belgium family, the Langlois. In November 1938, his sister, Sonja, her husband, Bernard, and their three year old daughter, Janet, arrived in Belgium, having fled Germany illegally following Kristallnacht. They were supported by HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) while in Belgium and during their immigration to the US in mid-March1940. In September 1939, his sister, Gitta, left Germany for the United States, where she settled in Minnesota.

    In May 1940, Germany occupied Belgium and the family was forced to flee once again. They escaped in their 1933 Buick Oldsmobile on May 14 to France. They had heard for months about the advanced mechanized French Army that would come to the aid of Belgium if there was war, and Michel was shocked by the splintered columns and lack of organization he saw as they drove towards France. The roads were packed with refugees, many with on foot, with no belongings. The Schadur family stopped for two day in Le Parcq, a village on the crossroads to Dieppe and Dunkirk, where they encountered British troops. When Michel told one British soldier that he had no planned destination, but was thinking of going to the coast, near Dieppe or Dunkirk, the soldier advised him to go south to Bordeaux. When Michel said that he did not have enough gasoline for that journey, the soldier told him that since they were going over the Channel, they could give him some gasoline. Michel and his family left the next day and that is when they encountered German airplane fire. They hid in holes and trenches and soon the roads were filled with German troops. They finally reached Bordeaux, shortly before the French surrender to Germany on June 22.

    Michel found a place to say in a village outside Bordeaux, called Bruges. Bordeaux was occupied by German troops and there were frequent bombing raids by the British Royal Air Force to destroy the ports. Food and other provision were shipped out to Germany and the region began to experience severe shortages. There was no fuel for cooking or heat and Michel began to fear they might starve. The family finally received their US visas, but the German authorities denied them permission to travel until December 14. They reached Portugal where the border guards at first told them that that their papers were not in order; however, Michel was able to convince them otherwise. After two months in Lisbon, the last free port in Europe, they sailed on February 21, 1941, for New York on the SS Exeter. The family settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, near Gitta and other family members. The spelling of the family surname was changed to Shadur.

    After the war ended in May 1945, Michel joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). He was sent to Germany, where he served as a supply officer for UNRRA teams in the district of Wurttemberg, and later as the director of the Jewish displaced persons camp in Backnang (Baden-Wuerttemberg). Michel died, age 77, in 1976, in Nyon, Switzerland. His wife, Manja, passed away, age 85, in 1989, also in Switzerland.
    The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was an international relief agency representing 44 nations, but largely dominated by the United States. Founded in 1943, it became part of the United Nations (UN) in 1945, and it largely shut down operations in 1947. Its purpose was to "plan, co-ordinate, administer or arrange for the administration of measures for the relief of victims of war in any area under the control of any of the United Nations through the provision of food, fuel, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities, medical and other essential services." Its staff of civil servants included 12,000 people, with headquarters in New York. Funding came from many nations, and totaled $3.7 billion, of which the United States contributed $2.7 billion; Britain $625 million and Canada $139 million. The Administration of UNRRA at the peak of operations in mid-1946 included five types of offices and missions with a staff totaling nearly 25,000: The Headquarters Office in Washington, The European Regional Office (London), the 29 servicing offices and missions (2 area offices in Cairo and Sydney; 10 liaison offices and missions in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Trieste; 12 procurement offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and later Peru, Cuba, India, Mexico, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela; 6 offices for procurement of surplus military supplies in Caserta and later Rome, Honolulu, Manila, New Delhi, Paris, Shanghai), the sixteen missions to receiving countries (Albania, Austria, Byelorussia, China, Czechoslovakia, the Dodecanese Islands, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia), and the Displaced Persons Operations in Germany.

    UNRRA cooperated closely with dozens of volunteer charitable organizations, who sent hundreds of their own agencies to work alongside UNRRA. In operation only three years, the agency distributed about $4 billion worth of goods, food, medicine, tools, and farm implements at a time of severe global shortages and worldwide transportation difficulties. The recipient nations had been especially hard hit by starvation, dislocation, and political chaos. It played a major role in helping Displaced Persons return to their home countries in Europe in 1945-46. Its UN functions were transferred to several UN agencies, including the International Refugee Organization and the World Health Organization. As an American relief agency, it was largely replaced by the Marshall Plan, which began operations in 1948. [Source: UN Original finding aid of records of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)]

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Identifying Artifacts
    Category
    Badges
    Object Type
    Badges (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, arched red cloth patch attached to white net backing. It has 5 letters and a rope border design hand embroidered in white thread. The cloth folds over the edges and is attached by adhesive.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm) | Width: 4.000 inches (10.16 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cloth, thread, adhesive
    Inscription
    front, embroidered in white thread : U.N.R.R.A.

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The UNRRA patch was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Joseph Shadur, the son of Michel Shadur.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-23 13:46:50
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn517538

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