Wrist watch with a brown band and engraved initials saved from Vilna ghetto
1941 September-1943 September
Vilna ghetto (Poland) (historic);
Personal Equipment and Supplies
- Object Type
Wrist watches (lcsh)
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of George de Ratafia
Wrist watch with a brown band owned by Tema Ginzburg that originally belonged to her uncle, Benjamin Ginzburg. Before the family was imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania, he altered it from a pocket watch to a wrist watch to make it easier to keep in the ghetto. During the liquidation of one of two ghettos in October 1941, Benjamin was deported to Estonia, then Stutthof concentration camp, where he was killed. He gave the watch to his brother, Moise, Tema's father, before leaving. Moise wore the watch for a while; he was deported to Chelmno concentration camp and killed in 1943. At some point, the watch was given to Tema. The Ginzburg family were prosperous merchants in Vilna, Lithuania, who experienced increasingly severe persecution as Jews through the Soviet annexation in 1940 and the German occupation in the summer of 1941. Over 7000 Jews were massacred by the Germans and the Lithuanians in the Ponary forest near Vilna that summer, including Tema's grandmother and uncle. In 1943, the Germans liquidated the Vilna ghettos. Tema's mother and father were deported and killed. Nineteen year old Tema escaped and was sheltered throughout the war by a friend of her mother's, a Polish woman, Josefa Mackiewicz. In 1953, she learned by chance that her twin sister had survived the Holocaust and was living in the United States.
Record last modified: 2021-02-10 08:56:34
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn522913
Also in Tema de Ratafia collection
The collection consists of a photograph and a wrist watch relating to the experiences of Tema de Ratafia and her family in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania, during the Holocaust.
The Ratafia family papers primarily relate to the post-war experiences of Tema, Lazarz, George, and Helene Ratafia in Poland and France. The collection includes biographical papers, immigration documents, publications, and photographs. There is some material related to relatives the Ratafia family of Warsaw, Poland as well as Tema’s family, the Ginzburgs of Wilno, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania). The biographical material includes birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, and immigration and naturalization papers. Tema’s papers include documents regarding her false name and Christian identity, Leokadia Rynkiewich, used during and after the war to hide her Jewish background. George’s papers contain a copy of a baptism certificate also used while Tema continued to use her false identity. Also included are orphanage papers of George and Helene’s, and a birth certificate of Josefa Mackiewicz. The printed materials contain three publications. Included is a copy of Dov Katzovich’s self-published memoir. Katzovich was related to Tema’s mother’s family. There is also a copy of Deutschland erwacht: Werden, Kampf und Sieg der NSDAP, often referred to as a cigarette album, which Gaston Ratafia carried with him as a cover while he fled Nazi-occupied Poland. The photographs chiefly contain photos of the Ratafia family in post-war Poland and France, along with relatives of the Ratafia and Ginzburg families. Included are photographs of Tema’s mother, brother, and sister; Lazarz’s father, brother, sister, and pre-war girlfriend; and Josefa Mackiewicz. There is also a photograph Tema’s sister, Eta Golde, at what is probably Feldafing displaced person’s camp in Feldafing, Germany. Additionally, there is a photograph album for the wedding of Samuel Lavner and Eveline Steinmiler in 1957.