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Leather wallet with gold leaf monogram kept by a Jewish girl while living in hiding

Object | Accession Number: 2006.44.2

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    Leather wallet with gold leaf monogram kept by a Jewish girl while living in hiding

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Wallet kept by Lida Kleinman while she lived in hiding on her own from the ages of 12-14. The wallet belonged to her mother, Aniuta, and it held her photo ID card. Lida, her mother, and her father, Mendel, a physician, struggled to stay together after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. They fled to the Soviet controlled eastern sector and when the Soviets began to deport Jews, they moved to Turka nad Stryjem. Jewish persecution escalated with the sudden 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. In 1942, Lida’s mother learned that all Jews were to be deported the next day. Since medical personnel were not being deported, she sent Lida to her father at the hospital. The nurses, who were Catholic nuns, hid Lida for a few weeks, then arranged a place for her at a Catholic orphanage. Lida was taught Catholic prayers, so she could pass as a Polish Catholic. She had to be moved repeatedly when suspicions arose that she was Jewish or when the convent run orphanages were threatened by attacks. She was reunited with her father on May 5, 1945, but her mother was denounced to the Gestapo and did not survive.
    Date
    use:  1942-1945
    Geography
    use: in hiding; Poland
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Lidia K. Siciarz
    Contributor
    Subject: Lidia K. Siciarz
    Biography
    Lida Kleinman was born on May 16, 1930, to Mendel, born 1899, and Aniuta Szwarcman Kleinman, born 1904. She was born in Krakow, Poland, but grew up in Lacko, where her father was a physician. With the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Lida's father was mobilized into the Polish army and soon taken prisoner by the Soviets. Lida's mother moved the family to Pinsk, in the Soviet-controlled sector of Poland, to stay with her parents. Not long afterwards, Dr. Kleinman escaped from a transport and joined his family in Pinsk. In order to avoid the deportations of Jews to the Soviet interior, the family relocated to Turka nad Stryjem, where Dr. Kleinman found work in a local hospital.

    In June 1941, Germany launched a surpise invasion of the Soviet Union. The situation of the Jewish community deteriorated dramatically. Lida's grandfather was beaten to death. Her father was kept a virtual prisoner in the hospital. In January 1942, her mother learned that the Jews of Turka would be deported the next day. In the middle of the night, she sent Lida to her father in the hospital with a locked cosmetics bag. Her father and the other Jewish doctors were not to be deported, because they were needed to vaccinate the local population against typhoid fever. The head nurse, Sister Jadwiga, hid Lida in one of the stalls of the men's bathroom that had been converted into a broom closet. She remained hidden in the hospital for several weeks, until Sister Jadwiga was able to smuggle Lida out to her apartment. Sister Jadwiga then arranged for Lida to be hidden in a Catholic orphanage in Lvov under the assumed name of Marysia Borowska. Before taking her there, she taught her the Catholic prayers she would need to know to pass as a Polish Catholic. In the Lvov convent school, Lida was placed under the care of Sister Blanka Piglowska. When suspicion arose that Lida was a Jew, Sister Blanka had her transferred to another convent school in Lomna and obtained a new set of false papers for her under the name of Maria Woloszynska. The Mother Superior of the Lomna convent was Sister Tekla Budnowska, who was hiding several Jewish girls in her school. When the convent came under attack by Ukrainian nationalists in the fall of 1943, she quickly made arrangements to transfer the Jewish girls to Warsaw, where she established an orphanage in an abandoned building on the site of the destroyed ghetto. After the suppression of the Warsaw uprising in the fall of 1944, the orphanage was relocated to the town of Kostowiec, outside the capital. Lida survived the war, and on May 5, 1945 was reunited with her father, who had been saved by a Russian Orthodox priest. It was only then that Lida gave him the locked cosmetics bag which she had kept with her, unopened, throughout her years in hiding. When they pried it open, they discovered family photographs, Dr. Kleinman's medical certificate, and other personal documents. Lida's mother did not survive. She was denounced to the police while traveling on false papers in Drohobycz. The police refused to release her despite a bribe sent by Dr. Kleinman. In addition to her father, Lida's paternal grandmother, Dwora (Sztern) Kleinman, and her cousin, Szulamit Grossbard, survived the war in hiding. After the liberation, the surviving family members settled in Jelenia Gora, Poland. Lida returned to school and graduated from the Wroclaw Polytechnic. She subsequently married her classmate, Leszek Siciarz, and immigrated to Israel in 1957.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Wallets (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Brown textured leather bi-fold wallet with a book-like side binding. The spine has gold leaf letters on the upper portion. It is lined with tan leather and there are pockets on each side. The right pocket opens on the top and the left pocket opens on the side to hold a small book. The bottom right of the left pocket has a gold embossed monogram. On the top of the exterior is a partial leather tab, missing the socket; the other exterior side has a snap stud.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    Materials
    overall : leather, cardboard, metal, gold leaf
    Inscription
    exterior spine, stamped in gold leaf : SKAT
    interior left pocket, stamped in gold leaf : MC

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The wallet was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Lidia Kleinman Siciarz.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 21:51:32
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn523460

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