Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Purse carried by Mimi Altarac who fled German-occupied Belgrade with her family

Object | Accession Number: 2002.438.9

Purse used by Mimi Altarac to hold all the family documents during World War II (1939-1945). In September 1941, seven-year-old Jas̆a and his parents, Mayer and Mimi, fled Belgrade, Yugoslavia (later Serbia), for Skopje, Macedonia, following the German invasion in April. Yugoslavia had been dismembered by the Axis Alliance, and Skopje was now controlled by Bulgaria. A month later, Mayer encountered a man from Kosovo who recognized him as Jewish and the Altarac family fled that night to Pristina, which was under Italian control. There as a large Jewish refugee population there, as the Italians did not regularly deport Jews to the German-run concentration camps. In December 1941, the Jewish refugees in Pristina were ordered to move into a transit camp at the main prison. In March 1942, German authorities demanded the deportation of fifty-one Jews to German territory. This group included Jas̆a 's maternal aunt Frida Barta, her husband, and daughter. The Italians complied and they were all murdered. In September 1943, the Italian military commander informed the Jewish families that Italy had surrendered to the Allies and their troops were withdrawing from Pristina. Assuming the Germans would soon occupy the region, Jas̆a 's family took a taxi to Tirana, Albania. His mother sold hand knit sweaters, and one of her customers, Ganimet Toptani, learning that she was Jewish, offered to help them. Her husband, Atif Toptani, took the family to an estate outside of town. In August 1944, a German unit came to search the estate for weapons, as someone had shot at the soldiers. Atif showed them they had no weapons. They were not arrested, but they were ordered to move back to Tirana. That September, Tirana was liberated by the partisans. The family returned to Belgrade. In December 1948, the family immigrated to Israel.

use:  1939-1945
use: Belgrade (Serbia)
Dress Accessories
Object Type
Handbags (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jas̆a Altarac
Record last modified: 2023-08-04 08:56:17
This page: