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Souvenir coin with a swastika and Star of David owned by a young German Jewish girl

Object | Accession Number: 2005.464.1

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    Souvenir coin with a swastika and Star of David owned by a young German Jewish girl


    Brief Narrative
    Commemorative coin issued to encourage immigration that belonged to 8 year old Mara Vishniac, a young Jewish girl who left Nazi Germany with her family in 1938-1940. The coin was struck in 1934 to memorialize the journey of Baron von Mildenstein, a Nazi party member, to Palestine. The trip resulted in a pro-Zionist report encouraging Jewish emigration, published in the nationalist newspaper, Der Angriff. Mara lived in Berlin with her parents, Roman and Luta, and brother, Wolf. After Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Jews experienced increasingly harsh persecution. Following the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, Mara, 12, and her brother, 16, were sent to live with relatives in Riga, Latvia. A few months later, Mara was sent to a home for refugee children in Sweden. In 1940, Mara, her mother, and brother moved to Stockholm and obtained visas to travel to the United States. Her father was arrested as an enemy alien in German occupied Paris and imprisoned. He escaped after three months and, with the aid of the JDC, which had sponsored his photography, he obtained a visa to the US. The family reunited in Lisbon, Portugal, and left on the SS Siboney, arriving in New York on December 31, 1940.
    commemoration:  1934
    received: Berlin (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Mara Vishniac Kohn
    front, around edge, below border, embossed : ∙ EIN NAZI FÄHRT NACH PALÄSTINA [A Nazi Travels to Palastine]
    back, center, embossed : UND ERZÄHLT / DAVON IM / Angriff [And tells about it in Angriff]
    back, bottom center, embossed : L. CHR LAUER NUERNBURG
    Subject: Mara Vishniac Kohn
    Issuer: Der Angriff
    Mara Vishniac was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1926 to Luta Berg, born on June 16, 1899, and Roman Vishniac, born on August 19, 1897, in Pavlovsk, Russia. Her brother, Wolf, was born on April 22, 1922. Roman was a trained biologist but was prevented from working in his field due to war and political strife. He moved to Berlin in 1920 and while working various jobs, embarked upon a career in photography. The family considered themselves emancipated Jews and did not practice Jewish rituals. Her father often attended synagogue, though her mother did not. Mara was more religious, reciting prayers daily. In 1932, Mara joined the Werkleute, a Zionist youth organization, and Wolf was a member of the Hashomer Hazair [Young Guard of the Zionist Left Wing].

    Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on January 30, 1933, led to increasingly severe restrictions on Jews. Propagandist and political posters began to appear and Mara’s father wanted to document the relationship between Hitler and President Paul von Hindenburg, while Hindenberg was still a part of the political landscape. He used Mara as a prop, photographing her in front of election and anti-Semitic posters. If questioned, he could tell people that he was taking pictures of his daughter. Mara remembers not being allowed to go to the movies, play tennis, ice skate, or freely take part in most childhood activities. Stores no longer welcomed Jews; Mara and her friends would debate whether they should go in, afraid that they would be physically thrown out or get their parents in trouble. In 1935, her father was commissioned by the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to photograph Eastern European Jews. He traveled across Eastern and Central Europe until 1938. On November 10, 1938, when Mara was 12 years old, she witnessed the events of Kristallnacht. Two American visitors from the JDC had come to see Roman and during their visit they heard a commotion in the street. Going out onto the balcony, they watched as Germans willfully destroyed Jewish owned stores and property. Mara, after viewing such great acts of cruelty, deliberately ended her faith in God.

    After Kristallnacht, Mara and Wolf were sent to stay with Luta’s family in Riga, Latvia. A few months later, Mara was sent to a center for German refugee children in Sweden. In the spring of 1940, Mara, Wolf, and Luta moved to Stockholm. That summer, Roman, who continued to photograph Jews after his commission with the JDC ended, was arrested as an enemy alien in Paris and imprisoned at Camp du Ruchard, a deportation camp in Clichy, France. He escaped the camp after three months with the help of Luta and the JDC, who procured him a visa to the United States via Lisbon, Portugal. At this time, Luta decided to leave Sweden for the U.S. She secured visas for herself and the children with the help of relatives in America. Mara and Luta traveled separately from Wolf and the three met in Lisbon. Neither Roman nor Luta knew that the other was there. The family was reunited by chance as they were staying at the same hotel. They sailed for the U.S. on the S.S. Siboney and arrived in New York on December 31, 1940. They settled in New York City and Roman worked as a photographer. He and Luta divorced in 1946. Roman died on January 22, 1990, Wolf on December 10, 1990, and Luta on November 4, 1998. Mara married and divorced her first husband with whom she had two children before marrying her second husband in 1955. Mara passed away on December 17, 2018.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Physical Description
    Circular, bronze colored metal coin with a smooth edge and an embossed design on the front of a Star of David encircled by German text, with a raised rim. The back features an embossed swastika with 3 lines of German text below within a circle with a raised border next to the raised rim. The printer's name is embossed in small print along the lower edge.
    overall: | Depth: 0.125 inches (0.318 cm) | Diameter: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm)
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The commemorative coin was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Mara Vishniac Kohn.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-31 10:43:58
    This page:

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