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Embroidered Girl Scout uniform sash and membership pin owned by a Jewish Yugoslavian girl

Object | Accession Number: 2016.497.2 a-b

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    Brief Narrative
    Green Girl Scout sash with embroidered gold trefoils and gold colored trefoil pin owned by Rut Hendel (later Tamar Hendel-Fishman) in Oswego, New York, between 1944-1946. Rut was a young girl living in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, with her parents and older brother, David, when Germany and Italy, supported by their allies, invaded. Zagreb was made the capital of the German puppet state, the Independent Sate of Croatia. The ruling party, called the Ustaša, persecuted and murdered ethnic Serbs and Jews, forcing Rut’s family to flee to the Italian occupied zone. After the Ustaša murdered Rut’s uncle and grandfather, the family fled to Rovigo, Italy. In September 1943, Germany invaded northern Italy and began deporting Jews to the east. Rut and her family escaped to Rome where they lived under false identities until liberation. In July 1944, Rut and her family came to the United States aboard the USNS Henry Gibbins. They lived in the Fort Ontario Refugee Shelter, an old army camp that was repurposed as an emergency shelter by the war Refugee Board. Rut and other girls in the camp joined the girl scouts as a social activity to help acclimate the refugees to American life. Rut’s mother, Hana, worked in the camp kitchen. The family stayed at Fort Ontario until February 1946, when they were granted legal entry into the United States and settled in New York City.
    received:  1944 August-1946
    received: Fort Ontario (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Tamar Hendel-Fishman
    a. front, top and bottom, embroidered, gold thread : GS

    b. front, top, embossed : GS
    back, bottom, embossed : R
    Subject: Tamar Hendel-Fishman
    Rut Hendel (b.1935, later Tamar Hendel-Fishman) was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), to Eisig (1903-1992, later Edward Handy) and Hana Sarah Weissman Hendel (1908-1998, later Hana Handy). Eisig was a textile merchant and owned a dry goods store. Rut had an older brother, David (b. 1928, later David Hendell).

    On April 6, 1941, Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia, supported by Hungary and Bulgaria. Yugoslavia quickly capitulated and the country was divided up between the Axis nations. Zagreb became the new capital of the Independent Sate of Croatia, a puppet state ruled by the German backed, fascist Ustaša government. The Ustaša quickly began expelling or killing ethnic Serbs and arresting and forcing Jews into concentration camps where most were killed upon arrival. To avoid capture by the Germans and the Ustaša, Rut and her family decided to escape to Italian occupied Yugoslavia. The journey was too dangerous for the entire family to travel together so Rut and Hana left first. After Rut and her mother arrived safely, David and Eisig made several failed attempts to escape, but eventually succeeded. Rut and Hana reunited with David and Eisig and the family stayed in lin Susak for a month, then went to the city of Ljubljana (now Ljubljana, Slovenia). Hana’s mother and sister, Yetta Weissman and Bertha Kremer, along with Bertha’s two sons, Vilko and Herman, fled Zagreb and joined Rut and her family in Ljubljana after the Ustaša murdered Bertha's husband, Aron, and Hana’s father, Mordechai. Rut and the family travelled into Italy and settled in the town of Rovigo where they were safe from persecution by the Germans and the Ustaša.

    In July 1943, Italy’s Fascist government, led by Benito Mussolini, was overthrown. In September, the newly established Italian government surrendered to the Allies. In response, Germany invaded the Northern half of Italy, freed Mussolini, established a puppet regime, and immediately began deporting Jews to the east. Rut and her family were no longer safe and moved to Rome under false identity papers.

    On June 9, 1944, after the liberation of Rome, President Franklin Roosevelt announced a plan to bring 982 refugees from Italy to the United States. The refugees would stay at Fort Ontario, an old army camp in Oswego, New York, that was repurposed as an emergency shelter by the War Refugee Board. To circumvent the strict immigration quotas, the refugees were labelled as President Roosevelt’s guests. However, that status gave them no legal standing and required their return to Europe once conditions permitted their repatriation. Eisig, Hana, and Bertha registered themselves and their children for the transport, joined the rest of the refugees in Aversa, Italy, and sailed out of Naples aboard the USNS Henry Gibbins in July. The ship was part of a larger convoy that was escorted by fifteen warships due to the ongoing Battle of the Atlantic. The refugees arrived in Oswego in August. Rut’s grandmother, Yetta, remained in Italy with her other two daughters, Hajka and Darika. They were later able to immigrate to Brazil.

    While in Oswego, Rut and David attended school and learned English, however, the refugees were unable to work due to their legal status, and families were not allowed to leave the camp. Eventually the refugees were allowed to travel from the camp, and Rut occupied her time by joining the girl scouts, ice skating and sleigh riding in the winter, and swimming in the lake in the summer. Rut’s mother Hana, worked in the camp kitchen. The majority of people in the camp spoke Italian; however, the Hendels learned English quickly. The Hendels remained in the camp until the end of the war in 1945. In February 1946, President Harry Truman granted the Oswego refugees legal entry into the country. The Hendels left Oswego and moved to New York City. Later, Rut began using the name Tamar and married. She became a public school teacher in New York and Maryland, and later became an art therapist.

    Physical Details

    Identifying Artifacts
    Physical Description
    a. Long, thin, rectangular green sash that narrows to a point on both ends. On each end, just above the tip, is a gold embroidered Girl Scout Trefoil symbol: the top, left, and right sides are shaped like leaves and the bottom narrows to a soft point. Two letters are embroidered inside. The edges of the sash are hemmed and machine stitched. There are several creases in the cloth and the cloth has a dark stain on one end.

    b. Shiny, gold colored metal pin in the shape of a Girl Scout Trefoil symbol with a raised edge. The top, left, and right sides are shaped like leaves and the bottom narrows to a soft point. Inside the trefoil is an embossed left facing eagle with spread wings, and bent legs. There are two initials above the eagle’s head, a ribbon in its beak, an olive branch in the left talon, and seven arrows in the right talon. Covering its chest is a shield with a raised border on the left, right, and top edges, four stars in a row along the top, and five interior vertical bars. The back side is smooth and has a clasp pin welded to the center and a maker’s mark embossed on the bottom edge. The metal on the right side of the shield has been pressed flat.
    a: Height: 42.250 inches (107.315 cm) | Width: 6.125 inches (15.557 cm)
    b: Height: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Width: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    a : cloth, thread
    b : metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The sash and pin were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by Tamar Hendel-Fishman.
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:11:17
    This page:

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