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Container used by a German Jewish refugee nurse and aid worker

Object | Accession Number: 2005.579.29

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    Brief Narrative
    Container used by Alice Redlich while she served as a nurse at the displaced persons camp established in the former concentration camp in Germany after the war. The British Army liberated Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, and it then became a DP camp. Alice and her family were German Jews living in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi dictatorship. In 1938, 18 year old Alice left for England to continue her nurse's training. She volunteered with the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad and, in September 1946, she left for the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp to care for children and young women. Her mother, father, brother, and grandmother were all murdered in Auschwitz. She met and married Hans Finke, a fellow German Jewish relief worker, at the camp in 1948. Hans had been a prisoner of Monowitz, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Flossenberg, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. His parents were murdered in Auschwitz and his sister survived in hiding.
    use:  1938-1949
    emigration:  1949 August 26
    use: DP-Camp Bergen-Belsen; Belsen (Bergen, Celle, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Alice Fink
    Subject: Alice Fink
    Alice Redlich was born August 12, 1920, in Berlin, Germany, to Georg and Ella Messer Redlich. Georg, born on August 8, 1884, was a salesman and World War I veteran from Schlabendorf, Germany. Ella was born on April 9, 1893, in Berlin. Alice's brother Heinz Alfred was born on June 9, 1923. The family considered themselves Germans who were Jewish. They celebrated high holidays, irregularly attended synagogue, and did not keep a kosher house. The children went to public schools. Alice attended Hebrew school three times per week and also belonged to a German Jewish youth group that was more social than religious. In 1932, Georg became formally affiliated with the Jewish Community, reporting official Jewish deaths to the religious and civil authorities. In 1932, Georg became formally affiliated with the Jewish Community, reporting official Jewish deaths to the religious and civil authorities.

    Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on January 30, 1933, led to increasingly severe restrictions on Jews. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws defined Jews by race and mandated the total separation of Aryans and non-Aryans. Due to the high number of Jewish students in her school, Alice did not immediately feel the increasing anti-Semitism. However, in response to the encroaching restrictions, her father removed her from school in 1935. She celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in 1936. Her only experience of persecution was that by 1937, she was not allowed to attend German cultural events. In 1937, Alice enrolled in a vocational school and trained as an infant nurse in a children’s home. She completed her training in 1938, and with the assistance of a cousin living in England, was accepted into the nursing program at Miller General Hospital, a private hospital in Southeast London. In the months prior to her departure, she learned English and worked for a family taking care of their infant son.

    On November 11, 1938, Alice left Germany from Bremerhaven on a refugee ship and arrived in London on November 14. Unbeknownst to her, Georg was briefly arrested during the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9 and 10. At the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939, Britain considered all Germans over the age of 16 enemy aliens. Alice was called before a special tribunal which recognized her as a refugee and she was allowed to continue her studies. Communication with her family was difficult. A letter with a 25 word maximum, sent through the Red Cross, could take up to three months to reach home. The family had a relative in Sweden; Alice wrote her and she relayed the letters to Germany. The air raids over London began in 1940, and Alice was evacuated to the countryside. She helped care for the German children evacuated during Operation Pied Piper, in which the British government evacuated over 500,000 children from vulnerable target areas to the country. In the summer of 1942, Alice first learned of the atrocities being committed against Jews in Europe. She knew of a small community of Orthodox Jews in London and went to them for assistance in bringing her family to England, but no one could help.

    On November 19, 1942, Alice became a registered state nurse and worked various staff jobs. She volunteered with the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad and, in September 1946, as part of the Team 110 Jewish Relief Unit, she left for Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in Germany. Alice cared for the children and young women, teaching skills such as basic hygiene and health. She put an ad in the Jewish Community newsletter to try and find out what happened to her family. With the help of a cousin who saw the ad and her family’s former landlord, Alice learned that her father, mother, and brother were deported to Auschwitz and murdered.

    At the DP camp, Alice met Hans Finke, born in Berlin on August 12, 1920. He was a former inmate at Bergen-Belsen, now working as an electrician for the British Army. In 1947, the couple got engaged. Alice returned to England to become a British national. She returned to Bergen-Belsen and the couple married on June 20, 1948. Hans’s sister, his only surviving family member, was a seamstress. She made the bride’s dress and attended the wedding. Alice became pregnant and the couple did not want to have their child born on German soil. They immigrated by plane to the United States, arriving in Chicago on September 1, 1949; their daughter was born soon after. It was not until this time that she found out the exact details of her family’s deaths from the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Georg was deported to Auschwitz on October 26, 1942. In 1941, her maternal grandmother, Emma, was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Her mother Ella was forced into labor at the Siemens electrical and engineering company, arrested at the factory, and deported to Auschwitz on March 8, 1943. Heinz, 20, was studying at the Neuendorf hachshara, a Zionist agricultural school which prepared students to emigrate to Palestine. On April 7, the Germans told the group of 60 youths and 30 older residents to prepare for deportation. The next day they were taken to Berlin and on April 19, 1943, deported to Auschwitz where all were murdered.

    Hans changed his name to John and they changed their surname to Fink. The couple had three more children. John became known in the local Jewish community as a tireless crusader for Holocaust related concerns. Both he and Alice were dedicated to educating future generations and talked and wrote about their own experiences. John, 81, passed away in 2000.

    Physical Details

    Tools and Equipment
    Physical Description
    Metal cylindrical container with a screw on cap that bells inward on top. It has heavy tarnishing, corrosion and scratches; contents unknown
    overall: Height: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm) | Width: 3.870 inches (9.83 cm)
    overall : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    DP-Camp Bergen-Belsen

    Administrative Notes

    The container was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Alice Fink, the wife of John Fink.
    Record last modified:
    2023-09-29 13:47:35
    This page:

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