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Hebrew prayer book, carried to Ecuador by a German Jewish refugee family

Object | Accession Number: 2016.538.9

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Siddur Tefilot Kol ha-Shanah book, owned by a member of Ilse Brilling or Horst Abraham’s family, and carried from Germany to Ecuador in the late 1930s. Following Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, anti-Jewish decrees and persecution made life in Germany increasingly difficult. Horst Abraham immigrated to Ecuador from Leipzig, Germany, in 1937, after hearing a rumor that he might be arrested. Horst's parents, Nanette and David, and one of his two brothers, Kurt, joined him there later. In 1939, Ilse Brilling left Rastenburg, Germany and immigrated to Chambo, Ecuador with her parents, Hedwig and Isidor, and older sister, Hilde. Ilse’s father died that same year, and the family moved to Quito, where she met Horst. The couple married on March 3, 1944, and they had their first child in 1946. Ilse, Horst, and their other family members living in Ecuador immigrated to the United States in the mid-to-late 1940s and settled in the New York City area. Horst changed his name to Harry, and got a job working in a meatpacking factory owned by his distant relatives. Many members of their extended families were not able to escape from Europe and died during the Holocaust.
    Title
    Siddur Tefilot Kol ha-Shanah
    Alternate Title
    Prayer book for Prayers for the Year
    Gebetbuch für die neue Synagoge in Berlin
    Prayer book for the new synagogue in Berlin
    Date
    emigration:  after 1937-1939 May
    publication:  1898
    Geography
    publication: Berlin (Germany)
    en route: Ecuador.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ruth Abraham
    Markings
    spine, impressed, gold-colored foil : Gebet-Buch. / 2. [Prayer Book. / 2.]

    title page, printed, black ink : [Hebrew characters] / Gebetbuch / für die / neue Synagoge in Berlin. / Sechste Auflage. / Theil II. / Neujahrsfest und Versöhnungstag / Berlin / Druck und Verlag von Julius Sittenfeld. / 1898. [(Siddur Tefilot Kol ha-Shanah) Prayer book for Prayers for the Year / Prayer book / for the / new synagogue in Berlin / Sixth Edition. / Part II. / New Year and Day of Atonement. / Berlin / Printing and Publishing by Julius Sittenfeld. / 1898.]
    Contributor
    Subject: Horst Abraham
    Subject: Ilse Abraham
    Publisher: Julius Sittenfeld
    Biography
    Horst Abraham (1917-2003) was born in Leipzig, Germany, to Nanette (nee, Neumeyer, 1881-1960) and David (1881-1958) Abraham. He had two brothers, Kurt (1910-2005) and Max (?-1998). Horst lived in Leipzig until he heard a rumor that he might be arrested, and immigrated to Ecuador in 1937. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland; two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany, beginning World War II. Emigrating from Europe became increasingly difficult, as few nations were accepting Jewish refugees, and there was little opportunity to help those left behind. Horst’s parents were able to join him the following year, arriving in December 1940, via Japan and Panama. Kurt also followed them there, while Max immigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he married.

    In Ecuador’s capital, Quito, the immigrant community was very close-knit. They had a clubhouse called the Beneficiencia, which served as a major center of Jewish life, with a restaurant, card rooms, dances, and plays. The immigrants in Quito also had many businesses, movie theaters, a sports club, and a dance club. Horst worked for a time as a waiter at the ‘Beni’ before obtaining a job in a small German delicatessen, where he met Ilse Brilling (1927-2016). Ilse had immigrated to Chambo, Ecuador in 1939 with her parents, Hedwig (1891-1959) and Isidor (1895-1939), and sister, Hilde (1923-2010). Isidor died in December 1939, and the family moved twice before settling in Quito in 1942. Like other immigrant families, the Brillings shopped at the delicatessen regularly, and Horst eventually asked Ilse on a date. After a year of courtship, the couple got engaged. They married the following year on March 3, 1944. Ilse had worked as an apprentice in a beauty parlor and then began doing hair and manicures in private homes. Horst took over management of the delicatessen where he worked.

    Germany surrendered to the Allied forces on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe. That September, Japan surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific. In May 1946, Host’s sister-in-law, Hilde, and her husband immigrated to the United States, settling in Brooklyn, New York. That same year, Horst’s brother, Kurt, and his family immigrated to the United States, and Ilse and Horst’s first child, Ruth, was born in Ecuador. That August, his mother-in-law’s sister and niece, Claire Brummer and Ingeborg Majewski, joined them in Quito, having survived the war in France. Horst’s parents, David and Nannette, immigrated to the United States in July 1947; Hedwig and Claire immigrated followed in November. Horst and Ilse sold their deli and followed in 1948. Horst changed his name to Harry, and they settled near their families in Brooklyn, New York. Ilse got a job as a manicurist, while Harry worked in a meatpacking factory owned by distant relatives. In 1951, they had a son, Stephen.
    Ilse Brilling (1927-2016) was born to Hedwig (nee, Finkenstein, 1891-1959) and Isidor (1895-1939) Brilling in Rastenburg, Germany (now Kętrzyn, Poland). Hedwig was born in Molthainen, East Prussia (now Mołtajny, Poland), and had four brothers and three sisters. Isidor was also born in East Prussia, and had at least two brothers and six sisters. Following World War I, Isidor received an iron cross for his service in the German army. He began selling raw materials, such as furs and metals, which he grew into a successful business with employees. Ilse had one sister, Hildegard or Hilde (later Baum, 1923-2010), whom she was not close to as a child. The family lived a comfortable lifestyle in a two-bedroom apartment above stores that they rented out. They also had two maids and a car, which they used often to visit her paternal grandmother. As a child, Ilse was extremely shy and very close to her mother, but had a distant relationship with her father. Although Rastenburg was a small town, it had a large Jewish congregation. Hedwig prepared a big Shabbat dinner every week, and Ilse would often help her in the kitchen. Ilse’s parents regularly entertained friends in their home, and one year hosted a Christmas and Hanukkah party for their employees.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Anti-Jewish decrees were passed that restricted every aspect of Jewish life. Almost immediately, the 117 Jews in Rastenburg were barred from movie theaters, swimming pools, and businesses, including the stores Ilse’s parents rented out. Ilse lost her only friend, a girl from a gentile family who joined the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), a Nazi girls’ group.

    On November 9, 1938, during the Kristallnacht pogrom, stores run by Jews were destroyed and their synagogues were burned down. Isidor was arrested by the SS and imprisoned in Mitgeten. A relative living in the United States sent him an affidavit, which Hedwig took along with the Iron Cross medal awarded for his service during World War I, and was able to get Isidor out of jail. Even after his release, Isidor did not leave without his family. The day after Kristallnacht, Hilde returned to Rastenburg from Konigsberg, where she had been apprenticed as a seamstress. Hedwig registered the girls for a kindertransport to England, but they were never assigned to one.

    Early in 1939, Isidor acquired visas for the family to immigrate to Uruguay. Shortly thereafter, their house, accounts, and assets were seized by the government, and they lost the crates of belongings they had shipped to South America. Shortly before leaving, however, they were notified that their visas were forgeries. After several weeks of visiting many consulates, Isidor obtained visas for Ecuador. They boarded the SS Caribia and sailed from Hamburg, Germany, in May 1939, and were given second-class cabins, even though they had paid for first-class.

    After landing in the industrial city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, the family moved to Riobamba, and then a nearby village called Chambo, where they rented a large house and land for farming. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland; two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany, beginning World War II. Emigrating from Europe became increasingly difficult, as few nations were accepting Jewish refugees, and there was little opportunity to help those left behind. At the end of December, Ilse’s father, Isidor, received an upsetting letter from his mother that he did not show his children. That day, he went on an errand to Riobamba, where he died of a heart attack. No longer able to make a living on the farm, Hedwig moved the family to rented rooms in Riobamba. They later moved to Ambato, where Hilde married a man named Albert Baum (?-1996). While in Ambato, Ilse attended school for a year, and became fluent in Spanish.

    The family then moved to Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and met Horst Abraham (1917-2003), who worked in a small German delicatessen. Horst had immigrated to Ecuador from Leipzig, Germany in 1937, when he heard a rumor that he might be arrested. His parents, Nanette (1881-1960) and David (1881-1958), and his brother Kurt (1910-2005) followed him to Ecuador a few years later. Another brother named Max (?-1998?) immigrated to South Africa. The immigrant community in Quito was very close-knit. They had a clubhouse called the Beneficiencia, which served as a major center of Jewish life, with a restaurant, card rooms, dances, and plays. Hedwig began doing their baking, often with Ilse’s help. The immigrants in Quito also had many businesses, movie theaters, a sports club, and a dance club. Like all of the other immigrant families, the Brillings shopped at the delicatessen regularly, and Horst eventually asked Ilse on a date. After a year of courtship, the couple got engaged. They married the following year on March 3, 1944. Ilse worked as an apprentice in a beauty parlor, and then began doing hair and manicures in private homes. Horst took over management of the delicatessen where he worked.

    Germany surrendered to the Allied forces on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe. That September, Japan surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific. In May 1946, Hilde and her husband immigrated to the United States. That August, Hedwig’s sister and niece, Claire Brummer (1892-1978) and Ingeborg Majewski (later Price, b. 1927), joined them in Quito, having survived the war in France. Hedwig and Claire immigrated to the United States in November 1947. Ingeborg married in 1947 and immigrated to the US in 1951 with her husband and child. In 1948, Ilse and her family also immigrated, joining the rest of their family in Brooklyn, New York. Horst changed his name to Harry, and got a job working in a meatpacking factory owned by his distant relatives. Ilse got a job as a manicurist, and they had another son, Stephen, in 1951.

    Physical Details

    Language
    Hebrew German
    Object Type
    Prayer books (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Books.
    Physical Description
    Book; Vol. 2; 480 p; 22 cm.
    Prayer book with a cover made of cardboard wrapped in brown imitation leather. The front and back covers have an impressed design of an elaborate frame. The spine has detached entirely, and has an impressed pattern of bars and flowers, as well as a title and volume number stamped with gold-colored foil. The outside edges of the pages have decorative blue marbling.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 8.500 inches (21.59 cm) | Width: 5.500 inches (13.97 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    Materials
    overall : cardboard, paper, ink, foil, imitation leather

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Sittenfeld, J. (Julius)

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The prayer book was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by Ruth Abraham, the daughter of Ilse and Horst Abraham.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:17:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn593644

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