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Beige leather purse with decorative piping used by a Kindertransport refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2003.454.18

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    Beige leather purse with decorative piping used by a Kindertransport refugee


    Brief Narrative
    Beige leather handbag with shoulder strap bought by Lilli (Karoline) Schischa in Great Briatin where she was sent on a Kindertransport from Austria on July 13, 1939. Lilli bought the purse in England ca. 1945 and used it to store the seventy letters she received from her brother Edi from Palestine. In March 1938, Nazi Germany marched into Austria and made it part of the Third Reich. The clothing store owned by Lilli's parents, Wilhelm and Johanna, in Wiener Neustadt was seized. Lilli's brother, Edi, 24, left for Palestine in October 1938. Her father was arrested during the Kristallnacht pogrom that November, but released after ten days. Her parents were able to get Lilli, then age 11, out of the country on a Kindertransport that left on July 13, 1939. Her parents were unable to get permits to leave and, on February 1941, were deported to the ghetto in Opole, Poland. They later perished in the ghetto or in Sobibor killing center. Lilli returned to Vienna ca. 1947.
    emigration:  1939 July 13
    use:  1945-1950
    received: Great Britain
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Lilli Schischa Tauber
    Subject: Lilly Schischa Tauber
    Karoline (Lilli/Lilly) Schischa was born on March 13, 1927, to Wilhelm and Johanna Friedmann Schischa in Vienna, Austria. Wilhelm was born in Gloggnitz in lower Austria on October 11, 1883, the oldest son of Josef and Karoline Gerstl. He had three siblings, Paula, Helene, and Adolf. Josef, originally from Mattersdorf, was a master tailor and was very religious. Wilhelm’s mother died in 1894 and his father remarried Anna Guenser and had four children, Ludwig, Richard, Malwine (d. 1927), and Erna. Lilli’s mother Johanna was born in 1885 and had two sisters Berta Ohme and Fanny Bauer. Lilli was raised in Wiener Neustadt, along with her older brother, Eduard (Edi), who was born on October 5, 1914. Lilli’s family was very religious and followed Jewish traditions. The Schischas owned a menswear store in Wiener Neustadt which was seized after the Anschluss, the integration of Austria with Nazi Germany in March 1938. Edi emigrated to Palestine that October. During the Kristallnacht pogrom that November 9-10, Wilhelm was arrested and detained in prison for ten days. He was then forced to sell their home. Lilli became ill with scarlet fever and had to be hospitalized. After she recovered, she joined her mother in Vienna, where she had gone with her sister-in-law. On July 13, 1939, Lilli was sent on a Kindertransport to Great Britain. As they waited at the train station, her father put both hands on her head and blessed her.

    Lilli was sent to live with a group of Jewish refugee girls at the Hackney hostel in London, but soon transferred to Cockley Cley estate in Swaffham, Norfolk. She worked as a seamstress. The war ended with Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945. Lilli eventually learned that her parents Wilhelm and Johanna, unable to secure visas, were deported from Vienna to the ghetto in Opole Lubelskie in German occupied Poland on February 26, 1941. In spring 1942, the Germans liquidated the ghetto. The Jewish residents were sent to Belzec and Sobibor killing centers and Lilli's parents presumably perished there.

    Lilli returned to postwar Vienna in 1946 or 1947 as a member of the Young Austria Refugee, a group dedicated to creating a democratic Austria. She was reunited with her mother's sister Berta Ohme, who had not been deported because her husband was not Jewish. Berta had preserved a collection of documents, correspondence, and photographs that Lilli’s mother gave her just before she was deported to Opole. Along with these, she gave Lilli correspondence sent by Johanna and Wilhelm from Opole. Lilli married Max Tauber in 1954. Max, who was also Jewish, was born in Vienna on June 11, 1920, and had lived in Jerusalem. They have two sons. Lilli’s brother Edi lived in Israel until his death in 1963, age 49.

    Physical Details

    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Handbags (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular light brown leather purse with rounded bottom corners and inward slanting sides. There is light brown leather piping over the seams and diagonally across the front. The top has a bronze colored metal zipper closure with a bronze colored metal ring attached to the zipper pull. A stiff light brown leather strap is attached at each upper corner on silver colored metal rings. The strap is sewn together down the center with light brown thread and has 2 attached light brown loops. The purse is reinforced with stiff fiberboard on the sides, bottom, and top edge. The interior is lined with offwhite cloth, stained near the top.
    overall: Height: 5.875 inches (14.923 cm) | Width: 9.750 inches (24.765 cm) | Depth: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm)
    overall : leather, fiberboard, cloth, metal, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The handbag was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Lilli Schischa Tauber.
    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:
    2023-06-13 16:15:30
    This page:

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