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Burned fragments Talmudic commentary recovered during Kristallnacht by a Jewish Austrian girl

Object | Accession Number: 2015.337.2 a-b

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    Burned fragments Talmudic commentary recovered during Kristallnacht by a Jewish Austrian girl

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    Brief Narrative
    Burned fragments of Talmudic commentary on the Shabbat chapter by Rif (Rabbi Isaac Alfasi) and Rabbeinu Nissim recovered by Mathilde Schwarz (later Rosenblatt) during the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938. She brought the fragments with her to the United States in February 1940, when she emigrated from Vienna, Austria, to live with her older sister, Estera. Mathilde lived in Vienna with her parents, Gershom and Rachel, and Estera (Bertha.) On March 13, 1938, Germany annexed Austria and created new legislation that restricted Jewish life. In July, Estera, married Berthold Stoeckel. During Kristallnacht, Mathilde watched from her apartment as synagogues and Jewish businesses were attacked, and Jewish religious texts were burned across the city. In late December, Estera and Berthold immigrated to the US. In January 1939, Mathilde received an alien passport for the German Reich. Not long after, she and her parents escaped to Częstochowa, Poland. Later in the year, Mathilde was allowed to return alone to Vienna, and gather the required documentation for her anticipated immigration to the US. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. On December 30, Mathilde renewed her passport. On February 3, 1940, Mathilde received a US visa, and two days later bought a train ticket to Rotterdam, Netherlands. On February 10, Mathilde boarded the SS Volendam and sailed to the US, where she reunited with Estera. On May 1, 1945, Mathilde married Samuel Rosenblatt, a fellow Viennese émigré. Mathilde later learned that both her parents were murdered during the Holocaust.
    found:  1938 November 09-1938 November 11
    emigration:  1940 February 10-1940 February 22
    found: Vienna (Austria)
    en route: United States
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Robert and Steven Rosenblatt
    Subject: Mathilde Rosenblatt
    Mathilde Schwarz (Tilli, 1923-2014, later Rosenblatt) was born in Vienna, Austria, to Gershom (Gershon) Ovodje (1887-1942?) and Rachel Lieberman (1893-1942?) Schwarz. Gershom was born to Mendel and Gendla (Hendil) Lewkowicz Schwarz in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland. Gershom was a jeweler by trade, and ran his own business, Graveur Schwarz. Rachel (Ruchla or Rosa) was born to Izrael Dawid and Alta Nacha Laskowska Liberman in Kruszyna, Poland. On May 1, 1913, Gershom and Rachel married in Częstochowa, Poland. Mathilde had one sister, Estera (Bertha) Bronia (later Stoeckel, 1914-1988,) born in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland. By 1915, Gershom and Rachel had moved their family to Vienna, where he was registered as a goldsmith. As an adult, Estera worked as a milliner.

    In 1935, there was a growing movement supporting the German state under Adolf Hitler and Austrians began advocating for the Nazi party, as well as an increase in anti-Jewish policies. On March 13, 1938, Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss." The Germans quickly introduced anti-Jewish legislation. On July 31, 1938, Estera married Berthold Stoeckel (1914-?) in Vienna, where he had been born. He was a merchant. During the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, Mathilde thought it was snowing and ran outside onto her apartment balcony in excitement. Once she was outside, she realized that the falling bits were actually charred and torn pages from Jewish scripture that was being burned throughout the city. Her mother quickly pulled her inside for safety. Mathilde did not understand what was happening, or why, but she knew it was terrible. Mathilde recovered two burned pieces of scripture, and decided to keep them because she knew they were sacred and she was very religious. At the end of 1938, Estera and Berthold travelled to Cherbourg, France, where they boarded the SS Franconia and sailed to the United States. On January 2, 1939, the young couple arrived in New York City, and were met by a relative, Alex Weiskopf.

    On January 26, 1939, Mathilde was issued an alien passport for the German Reich. It was valid for a year and allowed for re-entry to the Reich. Not long after, Mathilde and her parents, Gershom and Rachel, escaped to Częstochowa, Poland, where Rachel had family. Later in the year, Mathilde was allowed to return alone to Vienna, and gather required documentation for her anticipated immigration to the US. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II. Two days later, German forces were in Częstochowa. On September 4, a false accusation of a Jew opening fire on German soldiers brought on a vicious pogrom that claimed more than 1000 lives and came to be known as “Bloody Monday.”

    While in Vienna, Mathilde was homeless and living on the streets much of the time. Sometimes an old neighbor would provide Mathilde with some assistance, but they did not have enough food to feed themselves or her most of the time. On December 30, Mathilde renewed her passport with the Police Chief of Vienna, which extended its validity through December 20, 1940. On January 29, 1940, Mathilde received a stamped visa for a single re-entry into the Reich via a German transit point before February 12. On February 3, Mathilde received a US visa through the embassy in Vienna. On February 5, with the money she had sewn into her clothing, Mathilde bought a train ticket to Rotterdam, Netherlands, via the shortest possible route. The following day, she received a travel allowance stamp for 3.80 RM from the bank. Mathilde left shortly after, reaching the German border crossing at Emmerich, and the transit station at Zevenaar, Netherlands, on February 8. Two days later, Mathilde boarded the SS Volendam and sailed to the US, arriving in New York City on February 22.

    Once she was settled in the US, Mathilde’s sister drove her to a Jewish singles dance at the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Avenue. She met Samuel Rosenblatt (Sam, 1914-1982), a fellow émigré from Vienna, at the dance. He had been born in Trybuchowce, Austria-Hungary (now Trybukhivtsi Ukraine,) to Wolfe and Sophie (1882-1927) Rosenblatt, but he was raised in Vienna. Samuel had five older siblings. After Samuel’s mother died, his father married Frieda. In the late 1930’s, Samuel made his way to Belgium, and eventually emigrated, arriving in the US on November 11, 1939, with his brother-in-law Hirsch. On May 1, 1945, Mathilde married Sam in Washington, D.C. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered, ending the war in Europe. Mathilde learned that her mother was likely sent to the Warsaw ghetto and died at Majdanek killing center, and that her father was also murdered. Samuel learned that all of his siblings survived. Mathilde and Samuel settled down and had two sons. Samuel worked as an electrical contractor, and Mathilde was a homemaker. Mathilde was an avid Zionist, attended shul regularly, and visited Israel several times. Following Sam’s death in 1982, Mathilde spent much of her time volunteering in her community.

    Physical Details

    German Hebrew
    Information Forms
    Religious books.
    1 folder
    Physical Description
    a. Double-sided, irregularly shaped fragment of a partially burned book page. The paper is tan and lightweight with ragged, charred edges and a curved lower end. Printed in black ink, on both sides, and arranged in three, side-by-side columns is Hebrew text. The smallest font is in a narrow column beside the blank margin on the left, a mid-sized cursive script, Rashi, is in the center, and a large, square font is on the right. Several headings are scattered across the columns and are indicated with larger, bold text. The heaviest charring appears along the top and along the squared text column. The burned edges have several tears extending into the body of the fragment. Ten small, fragile pieces bearing text, as well as several tiny fragments with no text, have broken from the burned edges of the main fragment.

    b. Single-sided, irregularly shaped fragment of a partially burned book page. The paper is tan and lightweight with ragged irregular edges and a narrow projection with a rounded tip at the top. The long, straight edge along one side is likely the original edge of the page. Printed in black ink, on the front, is small Hebrew text with a narrow, blank margin along the left side. The text from the front is partially visible on the blank back, and a partial red ink stamp with German text within a square line border extends off one of the charred edges. The heavier charring occurs along the curved right edge, opposite the margin, and is confined to a thin line of damage. A small piece of paper is adhered to the lower back and there are traces of red ink beside it.
    a: Height: 2.875 inches (7.302 cm) | Width: 6.375 inches (16.192 cm)
    b: Height: 5.625 inches (14.287 cm) | Width: 3.250 inches (8.255 cm)
    a : paper, ink
    b : paper, ink, adhesive
    b : back, left edge, stamped, red ink : (?)gruppe / (?) asse Nr. 69. (?)group / (?) Number 69.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
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    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The burned fragments were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2015 by Robert and Steven Rosenblatt, the sons of Mathilde Schwarz Rosenblatt.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-08 14:14:37
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