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Small suitcase used by a former hidden child to emigrate to the US

Object | Accession Number: 2001.309.1

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    Small suitcase used by a former hidden child to emigrate to the US


    Brief Narrative
    Childsize suitcase used by 12 year old Michel Jeruchim when he and his siblings emigrated to the United States in October 1949. Among the items he carried in it was, Les Aventures de Jambo, an illustrated book created for him by his brother Simon. Nazi Germany occupied France in June 1940. Michel, then age 3, his parents, Samuel and Sonia, and his siblings, 14 year old Alice, and 10 year old Simon, remained in the Paris suburbs. In July 1942, Sonia heard of the Vel d'Hiv roundup, where thousands of Jews were to be arrested. Samuel and Sonia arranged with the Bonneaus, members of the underground, to hide the children separately in Normandy. Michel lived with the LeClare family. They changed his name to theirs, and treated him as their own. He attended church and public school. The siblings eventually were reunited after the war ended in May 1945. They lived for a while with a maternal uncle, but due to lack of money and space, were sent to various children's homes. They eventually learned that their parents had been deported in fall 1942 to Auschwitz and murdered.
    use:  1949 October
    received: Paris (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Michel Jeruchim
    lid, top, sticker, black ink : J / GDYNIA AMERICA LINE / GENERAL AGENTS / Fratelli Cosulich (cursive)
    Subject: Michel Jeruchim
    Michel Jeruchim was born on April 4, 1937, in Paris, France. His father, Samuel, was born on December 24, 1898, in Ostrow, Poland, and his mother, Sonia, was born on August 18, 1899, in Garwolin, Poland. They left Poland because of antisemitism. He had two siblings, Alice, born on February 18, 1928, and Simon, on December 25, 1929, both in Paris. The family lived in Montreuil and Samuel worked as a watchmaker in Paris. They were not religious. When World War II started on September 1, 1939, the family was vacationing in Richebourg in Normandy. Simon and Alice stayed there and attended school. Michel returned to Montreuil with their parents. Samuel returned on December 24 and brought Simon and Alice home.
    Germany invaded France in May 1940. School-aged children, including Simon and Alice, were evacuated to the south of Paris. Samuel arrived shortly thereafter to collect the children and to go further south to St. Savinien, where Sonia and Michel were to meet them. After 2 months, Sonia and Michel had not arrived, so Samuel and the children returned and found them in Paris. In November, the family had to register with the German authorities and carry identification cards stamped Juif [Jew] in red. Three year old Michel was exempt, due to his age. Food was scarce and Simon was sent to Richebourg to obtain provisions.
    On July 14, 1942, during a visit from friends with a young son, Joseph, they heard a rumor that all Parisian Jews were to be arrested. Both families hid with the Jeruchim’s gentile housekeeper. On July 16-17, the mass arrests of the Vel d’Hiv roundup occurred. Samuel and Sonia arranged for the children, including Joseph, to go into hiding. They were sent to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bonneau, Protestant members of the underground, who placed Michel and Simon with a man named Ernst and Alice with Mrs. Ledauphin in Normandy.
    Ernst slaughtered steers and sold the meat on the black market. He did not want to care for 5 year old Michel and sent him to live with the LeClare family in St. Aubin-les-Elbeuf. Their farm was close and Simon visited every few weeks, until Simon was moved to another home. The family, which included a seventeen year old son, Gaston, took good care of Michel. They changed his name to theirs and treated him as their own. He attended public school and church.
    Normandy was liberated in August 1944. In 1945, Michel’s maternal uncle, David Szpiro, became the children’s guardian and brought them to live with him, his wife Berthe, and son Raoul. Michel did not recognize Simon and referred to him as Monsieur. Due to a lack of space and money, the siblings were sent to a Jewish orphanage in Cailly-sur-Eure. In 1946, Simon received a scholarship to study commercial art at the School of Applied Arts in Paris. In 1947, Michel spent time in the Les Eglantines and the Les Glycines homes for children in Jouy-en-Josas. In 1948, he was transferred to the Moissac children’s home near Toulouse.
    Michel’s parents never returned. Eventually the family learned that Samuel and Sonia had been arrested and deported to the Drancy internment camp and then to Auschwitz concentration camp on September 11, 1942, and murdered.
    In 1949, David arranged for the children to emigrate to the United States, to live with their maternal grandmother, Tessie Shapiro, and her son, Sam, in New York. The three siblings sailed on the tourist ship, SS Sobiesky, and arrived in New York on October 25. Michel later married and had 2 children.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Suitcases (aat)
    Physical Description
    Small, rectangular, wooden suitcase covered with offwhite treated paper. There is light brown stitching around the left and right side edges, rounded metal corner bumpers, and 4 edge clamps on the top corners of the base. Two back hinges attach the lid and base. The front has 2 hasp locks on the lid and 2 keyhole lock plates and metal handle brackets on the base. The handle is missing and the silver colored hardware is corroded. The interior is lined with light brown paper with orange and light red plaid. In the upper right of the lid is a white octagonal sticker with a dark blue double border and a handwritten name. Interior wooden supports protrude above the base edge. There is a sticker on the exterior lid and sticker remnants on each side. The corner bumpers are dented and scratched. The exterior paper is worn off in places, stained, and scuffed.
    overall: Height: 5.250 inches (13.335 cm) | Width: 15.375 inches (39.053 cm) | Depth: 10.000 inches (25.4 cm)
    overall : wood, metal, paper, adhesive, thread, ink, paint
    lid, interior sticker, handwritten, black ink : Michel Jeruchim (cursive)

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The suitcase was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2001 by Michel Jeruchim.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:29:19
    This page:

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