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Wooden thread spool from tailoring shop in Paris

Object | Accession Number: 2005.463.2

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    Wooden thread spool from tailoring shop in Paris


    Brief Narrative
    Spool of light brown thread used by Isaac (Jacques) Kornowski in the tailoring business he operated with his wife, Chaja, in Paris, France. Germany occupied France in 1940. Kornowski, a German-Jewish immigrant who had lived in Paris since 1920, was arrested by the German authorities on August 23, 1941, and imprisoned in the Drancy transit camp. The next year he was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp where he was killed. His wife, Chaja, and their two sons, Henri and Paul, survived the war: Chaja in southern France; the boys in the OSE La Foret children's home in Switzerland.
    use:  approximately 1930-1939
    use: Paris (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Pnina Kornowski
    Subject: Isaac J. Kornowski
    Yitzhak (Isaac, Jacques) Kornowski was born February 1, 1896, in Lasku, Poland, to an orthodox Jewish family. His father was a fabric merchant. He married Chaja Giske, born January 15, 1897, in Zdunska-Wola, Poland. In 1920, they immigrated to Paris, France, where they started a tailoring and sewing business. They had three sons, George (1925-1927), Paul, b. 1926, and Henri, b. 1929. The household was not religious and they worked hard to assimilate, speaking French to the children at home and taking the names Jacques and Helene. They had a comfortable life, including summer vacations in the country.

    Following the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Jacques was given enlistment orders for the French Army. In June 1940, the Germans invaded and occupied France and Helene decided to flee with the children to Normandy. Soon after this, the Armistice was signed, Isaac was demobilized, and the family returned to Paris. The Germans enacted anti-Jewish legislation and there were periodic round-ups of Jews for deportation to concentration camps. Jews were not allowed to operate businesses and an Aryan custodian was attached to oversee the business. The family managed to sell or barter the store inventory for food and other needed supplies. On August 23, 1941, after spending the weekend in the country with his family, Isaac left to return to Paris. A friend arrived after he had left to warn him not to return to the city because a barricade had been set up to capture Jews. Paul, then 15, tried to catch up with his father but to no avail. Isaac was arrested and sent to the Drancy transit camp. The family was able to smuggle packages to him until one day, they received a postcard from him telling them that he was being sent by train to an “unknown destination.” Years after the war, they learned that he had been transported to Auschwitz where, age 47, he was murdered. The family moved to the south of France which was not occupied by the Germans. In September 1943, the 2 boys were smuggled into neutral Switzerland by the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfant [OSE, Children’s Aid Society], a Paris based organization dedicated to helping Jewish and refugee children. They lived in the Home de la Foret in Geneva and were reunited with their mother in 1947.

    Physical Details

    Tools and Equipment
    Object Type
    Thread (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Cylindrical wooden spool with flared ends and light brown thread wrapped around the center. There is a round hole drilled through the center and green and white paper labels with French text adhered to the top and bottom.
    overall: Height: 1.880 inches (4.775 cm) | Width: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    overall : wood, thread, paper, ink, adhesive
    top, written in circle pattern on sticker, white text on green background : •JTPF•6 FILS•40•CABLĒS
    bottom, written in a circle pattern on sticker, black ink : 457MÉTRES •500 YARDS 2229 THIRIEZ

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The thread was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Pnina Kornowski, the daughter-in-law of Isaac Kornowski.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:57
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