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Mother of pearl pendant

Object | Accession Number: 2005.209.1

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    Mother of pearl pendant


    Brief Narrative
    Pendant that originally belonged to Magda Lowy. She received it before the beginning of World War II in 1939 and entrusted it to her aunt, Jolie, for safekeeping. Jolie survived the Holocaust by living in hiding in Belgium. In June 1944, 21 year old Magda and her family were deported from Satu Mare, Hungary (Romania) to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in Poland. She and her sister, Elizabeth, were able to stay together at Auschwitz and at Ober Hohenelbe, the labor camp in the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) where they were sent in November. They worked as forced labor in a factory making electrical tubes for the automatic-pilot planes that flew over the Channel to England. The camp was liberated by Soviet forces on June 6, 1945. Magda and Elizabeth returned to Satu Mare searching for family members, but all had perished, except for one uncle.
    received:  approximately 1968
    creation:  approximately 1925
    use:  1925
    found: Belgium
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ann Spitz
    Subject: Magda Moldovan
    Magda Lowy was born on October 11, 1923, in Satu Mare, in the Transylvania region of Romania, to an orthodox couple, Moritz and Zseni Lowy. She had an older sister, Elizabeth, born in 1921. Her mother had died and her father had remarried so she had a stepmother, Cecilia, a half-brother, Alexander (b. 1927), and a half-sister, Klari (b. 1930). Her father’s family was extremely wealthy and respected by the Hungarian Jewish community. Her father was a flour and grain merchant, and owned a store and large warehouse. Hungary annexed the region in August 1940, and occupied Satu Mare on September 20, 1940. They enacted laws to exclude Jews from sectors of community life, such as certain professions. German forces occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, and enacted extreme anti-Semitic measures to eliminate the Jewish population. The Lowy’s money was confiscated or accepted as bribes, but on May 8-9, 1944, they were removed from their home and relocated to the Szatmar ghetto where her father was on the Judenrat (Jewish Council). In June, they were all herded into cattle cars and taken to Auschwitz. A German officer, Josef Mengele, stood on the platform sorting them as they disembarked, deciding who was useful alive and who was not. Her sister Elizabeth remembers: "We were almost at the crematorium. He called me out of line. My mother saw this and she screamed for my sister Magda to go with me because I couldn't take care of myself. The German officer snapped his whip and cracked Magda across the back. "Where do you think you are going?” he demanded to know. "To help my sister," she said. "He looked at her and said ‘Go ahead.”’ They were fed one slice of brown bread in the morning and a bowl of soup at midday. They did hard labor in a small town outside Auschwitz, digging trenches, carrying cement, and building artillery installations. They heard rumors about the Allies landing in France and that Russian forces were advancing from the east. In November, about 500 women were loaded into train cars and taken to Ober Hohenelbe, a concentration camp in the Sudetenland, in western Czechoslovakia, that was a subcamp of Gross-Rosen. They were forced to work in a factory, making small electrical tubes supposedly for radios; they were told by one of the engineers in April that the tubes were used in the automatic pilot planes that flew over the English Channel. According to Elizabeth, “She said if you want to sabotage, go ahead and do it. They did.” The camp was liberated by Russian troops in February 1945. Elizabeth and Magda returned to Satu Mare, searching for surviving family members. Their only surviving family member they found was an uncle, Meilach; all the rest had perished, over 200 people. They later discovered that they had a paternal aunt who had survived the Holocaust in hiding in Belgium. Elizabeth married Norman Spitz, a highly decorated member of the Czech underground, on August 16, 1945. They emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the United States in November 1946 with their infant daughter, and settled in New Jersey. Magda married Eugene Moldovan, a fellow survivor from Satu Mare in 1946 and they emigrated to Australia.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Gold, teardrop-shaped pendant with a polished abalone or mother of pearl shell in a gold setting. The decorative gold setting has small prongs and a braided rope side. There is a metal suspension and jump ring attached to the top. The back is engraved with leaves and a banner with a turned end with a split tongue. The banner has letters that have been crossed out; outside the banner are engraved initials.
    overall: Height: 1.630 inches (4.14 cm) | Width: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Depth: 0.120 inches (0.305 cm)
    overall : metal, mother of pearl
    back, engraved : MM

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The pendant was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Ann Spitz, the niece of Magda Lowy Moldovan.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-31 10:14:17
    This page:

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