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Multi-colored crocheted sweater received in a forced labor camp

Object | Accession Number: 2007.176.2

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    Multi-colored crocheted sweater received in a forced labor camp

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Sweater jacket worn by 23 year old Regina Wygodska from 1944 to 1945 in Ludwigsdorf concentration camp in Poland. The sweater was given to her by Master Didtrich, the man she worked for doing electrical repair. Much of her work was outside in the brutal cold, so he requested warm clothing for Regina. The sweater was obtained from the warehouse of clothing confiscated from prison inmates. Regina was wearing the sweater on May 5, 1945, when the camp was liberated by Soviet forces. Not long after liberation, she met Rubin Eber and they decided to marry. Regina wore the sweater for the ceremony on November 20, 1945. When they arrived, and Mrs. Davidovicz, the wife of the man performing the ceremony, saw Regina, she turned white and began to cry. She told Regina that this was "the sweater that my mother made in the Łódź ghetto from small remnants of wool left over from many other sweaters" and that her mother had been murdered at Auschwitz. Regina took off the sweater and tried to give it to her, but Mrs. Davidovicz refused to take it. Regina preserved the sweater as a sacred object and never wore it again. Regina and her family were confined to the Warsaw ghetto not long after the German occupation of September 1939. Regina and her sister, Irene, escaped before the ghetto was destroyed following the Ghetto Uprising in spring 1943. They assumed false identities, but were deported by the Germans that summer. Irene was sent to Auschwitz and gassed upon arrival. Regina was sent to Ginterbrucker, then Ludwigsdorf concentration/labor camp where she was liberated. All of her family was killed during the Holocaust.
    Date
    use:  1944-1945 November 20
    Geography
    received: Ludwigsdorf (Concentration camp); Ludwikowice Klodzkie (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Regina Eber
    Contributor
    Subject: Regina B. Eber
    Biography
    Regina Betty Wygodska was born on June 4, 1921, in Warsaw, Poland, to Rubin Wygodski and Sonia Rosenstein, born 1891. Rubin was born in Slutz, Russia, where he worked as an accountant in the Czar’s warehouse in St. Petersburg. After the Russian revolution, he moved to Poland and opened a wholesale coal business with his brother-in-law. Regina had two older sisters: Wanda, born 1907, and Irene, born 1914. Her maternal grandmother, Ella Berkkowitz-Rostenstein, also lived with the family until she passed away in 1936. They were a well off middle class family and observed Jewish traditions. Her father died in 1930 during an influenza epidemic. Regina’s mother and her sister, Irene, opened a repair shop for radios, cameras, and bicycles, as well as a telephone franchise and the family was able to maintain their standard of living. Regina graduated from a public high school in June 1939.

    That September, Germany occupied Poland. The Germans forced them to close the store and, in October 1940, they were ordered into the ghetto with the other Jews of the city. Her mother and sister earlier had travelled to the Soviet Union in search of Wanda’s husband, Stanislaw Muszkat, a reserve officer in the Polish army, who they had heard was wounded. But they were not able to find him and returned to Warsaw to live with Regina in the ghetto. A friend of Regina’s mother, Mr. Murawcik, helped Irene and Regina get jobs at an estate he managed outside the ghetto. They exited and re-entered the ghetto every day for work. One day, they sent their mother in their place to protect her from the increasingly frequent Aktions which often targeted children, the ill, and the elderly for deportation to concentration and extermination camps. Murawcik bribed the guards who counted the Jewish workers every day, and Sonia was able to stay with him outside the ghetto. Regina and Irene began to work at the Toebbens factory inside the ghetto; Regina sewed clothes for German soldiers and Irene was a stenographer. Sonia returned to the ghetto to bring food to her children and stayed with them, believing that the papers Murawcik had given her identifying her as an estate worker would keep her safe. But she was deported to Treblinka extermination camp in 1942 where she was killed. Wanda also was deported and murdered in Treblinka in 1942. Stanislaw, active in the underground resistance, was killed during the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943.

    Irene became friendly with another woman at the Toebbens factory, Paulina Orzel. Before the war, Paulina had been the wealthy owner of a Patek Philippe watch franchise, but the Germans confiscated her factory because she was Jewish. The man the Germans placed in charge of the factory provided aid to Paulina and her son in the ghetto, and with Irene’s assistance, he smuggled them money to help them plan their escape. Irene snuck outside the ghetto and went to a Christian socialist, Mr. Wojczak, who had worked with her father. He gave Irene two non-Jewish Polish birth certificates and found them an apartment. Irene and Regina, who did not look Jewish, assumed the false identities: Irene became Irene Nowiczka and Regina became Albina Sofia Wojczak. They decided that Pauline and her son looked too Jewish to pass with non-Jewish papers, so they built a small room behind a false wall in the bathroom to hide them. The director of the Toebbens factory, Mr. Marmur, was sympathetic to the plight of the Jewish workers and, on several occasions, saved Irene from roundups by the Germans. He visited Irene and Regina at their apartment to help them avoid suspicion from neighbors.

    After the violent suppression of the ghetto uprising in May 1943, the Germans began to search for and deport all the remaining Jews of Warsaw to concentration and forced labor camps. Regina and her companions became nervous about staying in Warsaw and Marmur suggested that the sisters legally register to work in Germany as non-Jewish Poles. They did so and left by train for Germany. They did not travel with a group of workers because they were afraid they would be recognized as Jews. They had to change trains at Poraj, the border with Germany, and when the Germans checked their identity papers, Irene and Regina were put aside with other Jews and interrogated. Moshe Merin, the chairman of the Jewish Council in the nearby Sosnowicz ghetto, sent Jewish guards to bring the detainees to the ghetto. Not long afterwards, they were among a group of Jews taken to a field and put in lines. Regina refused to follow an order from a German soldier and was whipped in the eye. She then was taken to the Red Cross tent and while she was there, Irene was put on a transport wagon for Auschwitz where she was gassed upon arrival. Regina was sent to Ginterbruker labor camp for one month, where she was selected foreman. She was then deported to Klettendorf labor camp until July 1944 when she was deported to Ludwigsdorf, a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp. She worked as an electrician and was overseen by Mr. Didtrich. She was liberated by the Soviet Army on May 5, 1945. She returned to Warsaw, where she encountered Mr. Marmur, who revealed that he was Jewish. She met Rubin Eber and they married on November 10, 1945. They had a son and eventually left for Israel. The family later moved to the United States.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Clothing and Dress
    Category
    Women's clothing
    Object Type
    Sweaters (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Crocheted, long sleeved sweater made of wool yarn dyed orange, red, yellow, off-white, blue-gray, and navy blue. The V-neck sweater has lapels, a rolled over collar, and 5 plastic buttons. It is slightly gathered at the waist and flared at the hips. The interior seams are reinforced with cloth.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 21.000 inches (53.34 cm) | Width: 17.000 inches (43.18 cm)
    Materials
    overall : wool, cloth, plastic

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The sweater was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Regina Betty Eber.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:11:29
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn519056

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