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Marian Miklin photograph collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2005.42.1

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    The Marian Miklin collection consists of seven photographs depicting Beryl and Marian Miklin and their life in Neu Freiman displaced persons camp.
    inclusive:  1945-1947
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Marian Miklin
    Collection Creator
    Marian Miklin
    Beryl I. Miklin
    Mirka (Miriam) Kestenberg (Kleinberg) was born on July 1, 1925, in Slupia Nowa (now Nowa Slupia), Poland, to Szja (Shiya) and Rivka (Chana) Silverman Kestenberg. Rivka was born to Luba and Shmuel, an only daughter, with five brothers. Mirka’s father owned a gourmet and wholesale food store with government contracts. Mirka had four siblings: Hannah (Hanka) born on January 21. 1924, Sima, born May 9, 1927, Yekhiel, born 1931, and Meir, born 1936. Mirka attended public school. The Jewish children had to sit in the back rows and they avoided school on Catholic holidays, because anti-Semitism increased during holidays. At Christmas, their mother made the children stay inside because the churches would talk of the need for revenge against Jews, the Christ-killers. In the afternoon, Mirka attended Beit Ya’akov, a Jewish religious school for girls. The family was relatively well off. Szja was a leader of the Jewish community of nearly one thousand. He established a shelter for homeless Jews as well as the Beit Ya’akov school, whose teachers he recruited. Szja travelled frequently to acquire merchandise for his store and was a member of the Betar Jabotinsky Party, a Zionist organization.

    Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1, 1939, and reached Slupia Nowa on September 9. The Germans immediately implemented repressive measures against the Jews. Mirka and her family had to leave their home and their belongings were confiscated. In 1940, the Germans established a Jewish ghetto. In 1941, Szja, his brother, and other Jewish community leaders were arrested and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. In late September, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Mirka’s mother received a telegram notifying her that she could purchase an urn with her husband’s ashes. In fall 1942, the remaining Jews of Slupia Nowa were transported to nearby Bodzentyn. That October, a German officer, who had taken over their house in Slupia Nowa, told Rivka that he wanted to save her family. He said that he could not sleep at night because of feelings of guilt for what the Germans were doing to Jews. The German offered to take the sisters and their mother, but Rivka refused to abandon her two small sons and her parents. The officer took Mirka and her sisters, Hanka and Sima, to a labor camp in Starachowice, Poland.

    The three sisters worked in an armaments factory making bombs. In July 1944, the Germans liquidated the camp. Mirka and her sisters were transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. They had heard that people were murdered by being gassed in the showers and when they were taken into a shower room at Birkenau, they were convinced that gas would emerge from the shower heads. Mirka remembers saying the Shma Israel prayer before entering. They were assigned to a labor detail in the nearby swamps. In late December 1944, as Soviet troops neared the camp, the sisters were sent by forced march and train to Magdeburg in Germany. As British troops were approaching the area, they were marched to cattle cars heading for Mauthausen. Around February 1945, after a week on the train with no food, Hanka, Mirka, and three other girls, Natka, Rozka and another girl, all originally from Bodzentyn, jumped off the train and escaped. Sima refused to jump. Mirka and the others hid in haystacks and then a sympathetic Czech family let them sleep in and work in the fields in exchange for food. The region, near Prague, was liberated by the Soviet Army on May 9, 1945.

    They worked in a textile factory and after a few months, Mirka and Hanka traveled by train to Kielce, Poland, seeking news of their family. They met a forest ranger who expressed amazement that there were any Jews left alive. They learned that their mother, two brothers, grandparents, and five uncles with their families had been murdered in October 1942 at Treblinka. Others told them of the vicious antisemitism in postwar Poland and they left Kielce for Łódź. From there, with help from the Bricha organization, they returned to Prague. They heard that other survivors had gathered near Munich, Germany, hoping to go to Palestine. They went there and settled in Landsberg displaced persons camp.

    In 1946, they discovered that their youngest sister, Sima, was in a DP camp in Italy. Sima had stayed on the train and been taken to a Mauthausen subcamp, Gunskirchen, where she was freed on May 6, 1945. She was sent to a DP camp in Modena, Santa Maria de Cesari then to Genoa, Italy. Sima married Heniek Gutsztein (Guttstein), a fellow survivor from Lomza, Poland, on January 19, 1946, in Vardo, Italy. They emigrated to Paraguay in 1947. Hanka married Szmul Flamenbaum, originally from Bodzentyn, and settled in Feldafing DP camp. They emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1947 and had a son.

    Mirka married Ber Itzhak Miklin on September 14, 1946, in Neu Freimann DP camp. He was born on January 1, 1915, in Rezekne, Latvia, and had been incarcerated in the Riga ghetto and Stutthof concentration camp, until escaping during a death march in February 1945. Mirka and Ber shared a house with three other Jewish couples. Ber and Mirka attended tailoring courses sponsored by the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (ORT) and also raised rabbits and chickens. After the birth of a son at Neu Freimann in June 1947, the couple changed their plans. Instead of seeking to go to Palestine, they applied for emigration to Canada, but their papers were given by an antisemitic counselor to a non-Jewish Ukrainian family. In October 1949, they sailed to the US on the General Muir. They settled in El Paso, Texas. The climate was difficult for them and, after a year, they moved to Denver, Colorado. They americnaized thier names to Beryl and Marian. Beryl worked as a tailor. They had another son and a daughter. Beryl, age 83, died in 1998.
    Ber Itzhak Miklin (later Berl/Beryl, 1915-1998) was born in Rēzekne, Latvia, to Motel (Mordechai, 1873-1943) and Gitel Miklin (nee Serebro, 1880-1941). Ber had two sisters, Lena (or Lea/Leja, later Buschkin, 1905-1943) and Zipa (later Fogel, 1908-1943), and two brothers, David (1911-1945) and Phillip (or Faivušs, 1918-1945). Jews made up about a quarter of Rēzekne’s population, and Ber attended a Jewish day school and acquired Zionist beliefs. He did not keep Kosher and only went to the synagogue on occasion. He experienced some antisemitism, but it did not affect his life in a major way. Motel worked as a tailor, and began teaching Ber the trade at a young age. The family was poor, so in 1928, at age 13, Ber moved 150 miles to Riga to find work. He found a job as a tailor’s apprentice, and sent money home to his family when he could. He also returned to see his family periodically.

    Ber married Mera Kaplan (1918-?) and served in the Latvian military from 1939 to 1941. In August 1940, the Soviet Union annexed Latvia, which became the Latvian SSR. Around this time, the Soviets transported Ber’s family to Riga. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and entered Riga on July 1. In August, the German authorities began developing for a closed ghetto in Riga, where Ber’s family was forced to move in September. In November and December, two Aktions conducted by the German Order Police resulted in the deaths of 25,000 Latvian Jews in the ghetto, which was then repopulated with Jews deported from other countries. Ber and his family were among those deemed healthy enough to work, and were moved to a separate area of the ghetto. Most of the Jews assigned to forced labor worked at sites outside of the ghetto. One sister worked as a seamstress, the other worked in a shoe factory. His brother David also worked in a shoe factory while Phillip was able to attend an international school outside of the ghetto. Life in the ghetto was very hard, and Ber’s mother, Gitel, died in 1941. Phillip fled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1942, where he likely died.

    The Riga-Kaiserwald camp was established in March 1943 at the Mežaparks Forest, north of the central city. That summer, the German Security Police began transferring the Riga Jews to the administration of Kaiserwald concentration camp, which had 23 forced-labor subcamps. Ber and David were transported to Kaiserwald in August, and were assigned to work as electricians. Ber’s father, sisters, and his sisters’ families, were also sent to Kaiserwald, but later killed.

    German authorities began evacuating Kaiserwald in the summer of 1944, ahead of the impending Soviet army. Most of the prisoners were marched to Riga’s port, where they were put on ships to Danzig in German-occupied Poland, and force-marched again on their way to Stutthof concentration camp. Ber and David were in Stutthof for about six months; David likely died during this time. On January 25, 1945, the SS began evacuating Stutthof, forcing about half of the 23,000 prisoners on a march to Neuengamme. Ber managed to escape the march, and hid in the nearby forest. He made his way to the area of Poznań, Poland, where some of the local farmers allowed him to work in exchange for food.

    The area around Poznań was liberated by Soviet Forces in February, who hired Ber for a time. He then traveled to Lodz, where he stayed for half a year. Ber eventually made his way to Landsberg displaced persons (DP) camp near Munich, in the American zone of Germany, and later moved to the nearby Neu Freimann DP camp. While in the DP camps, Ber took tailoring and patternmaking courses through ORT (Obshchestvo remeslennogo i zemledelʹcheskogo truda sredi evreev, or Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). ORT was established in Russia in 1880, and following World War II, provided training courses to survivors to help them rebuild their lives in new countries. In Neu Freimann, Ber met Mirka Kestenberg (1925-?). Born in Slupia Nowa (now Nowa Slupia), Poland, Mirka and her two sisters were forced to work at an ammunitions factory in the fall of 1942. They were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Magdeburg, and Mauthausen, before they escaped by jumping off a transport train in February 1945. They worked for local farmers near Prague, Czechoslovakia, until the end of the war in May 1945. After multiple relocations, the sisters ended up at the DP camps near Munich. Ber and Mirka married at Neu Freimann in September 1946, and made plans to immigrate to Palestine. When their first son, Joszua, was born in 1947, they decided to immigrate to North America instead. The family left Germany on October 31, 1949, and sailed to the United States, where they changed their names to Beryl, Marian, and Mark. They initially settled in El Paso, Texas, but a lack of tailoring work for Beryl led them to move to Denver, Colorado. Beryl found work in a department store, and later opened his own tailoring shop. The couple had two more children, Jerry and Lorraine.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Marian Miklin photograph collection is arranged in a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The Museum is in the process of determining the possible use restrictions that may apply to material(s) in this collection.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Corporate Name
    World ORT Union

    Administrative Notes

    Marian Miklin donated the Marian Miklin photograph collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-03-20 13:54:04
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