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Portrait of a German Jewish girl in a handmade burlap frame

Object | Accession Number: 2018.70.5

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Framed, black and white, photographic portrait of Eva Simon, the sister of Margret Simon Hantman. The photograph was given to her in Berlin before the war. The frame was made from a piece of coarse mattress by a woman Margret shared a room with while imprisoned at Sackish-Kudowa labor camp. Prior to the war, Margret and her family lived in Berlin, Germany, where her father owned a grocery store. In 1935, his store was taken by the authorities after the Nuremberg Laws were passed and he was forced to work as a laborer on the outskirts of the city. In October 1942, her sister Eva was sent on a transport to Rīga, Latvia, where she was murdered. In December, Margret and her parents were sent to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in Czechoslovakia. In September 1944, Margret’s father was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in German occupied Poland, where he was murdered. The following month she and her mother were sent there as well. Margret’s mother was killed soon after they arrived. Margret was sent to a large room where she was forced to remove her clothes and give up her belongings. She hid this small photo of her sister and a tiny Star of David on a chain in her mouth. She kept the items there throughout the process of showering and having her hair shaved off. After a few weeks, Margret was sent to Sackisch‐Kudowa labor camp to work in an airplane factory. She and the other prisoners were freed in May 1945, and Margret made her way to Deggendorf displaced persons camp that summer. She met her first husband Felix Huber at Deggendorf, and in 1946 they both immigrated to the United States.
    Date
    received:  before 1942
    creation:  after 1944 November-before 1945 May
    Geography
    received: Berlin (Germany)
    use: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Oświęcim (Poland)
    creation: Kudowa-Sackisch (Concentration camp); Kudowa Zdroj (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Margret Hantman
    Contributor
    Subject: Margret Hantman
    Subject: Eva Simon
    Biography
    Margret (Miriam) Hantman (née Simon) (b. 1926) was born in Berlin, Germany, to Willy Simon (1896-1944) and Ella Anita Stahl Simon (1901-1944). She had one younger sister, Eva (1928-1942). Her father ran a grocery store outside Berlin and made a comfortable living. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and anti-Jewish decrees were passed that restricted every aspect of Jewish life. In 1935, her father’s store was taken from him by authorities after the Nuremberg Laws were passed. The family moved to Bernau, a small town north of Berlin. Her father worked as a salesman for a margarine company, but then was forced to do hard labor carrying stones. After a couple of years, the Simon family moved back to Berlin where Margret attended public school until she was forced, by law, to attend a Temple school for Jewish children only. Her family was not religious, but Margret became very interested in the Zionist movement and went away to a Hachshara in order to prepare to make aliyah to Palestine.

    After returning to Berlin, Margret worked in a cable factory for six months. Her sister, Eva attended school and worked nights in a Jewish foundling home. In October 1942, the Gestapo, seeking retribution against members of the Jewish community who had gone underground, deported a group to Rīga, Latvia. Eva, who was working for the Jewish community, was taken away on this transport at the age of 15. In December, Margret and her parents received a transport summons as well. Her father had received the Iron Cross in WWI and her grandmother was not Jewish, so they were sent to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in Czechsoslovakia. They were forced to live separately, but could see each other. Margret worked in the stabsgarten [staff garden] where they grew vegetables enabling her to sneak food to her family. In Theresienstadt, she met Lucy Steinhagen (née Fried), who became a lifelong friend. Margret’s father worked treating people who had lice and her mother did sewing.

    In September 1944, her father was deported on a male only transport from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz concentration camp in German occupied Poland. Before he was taken, Margret promised him she would not leave her mother alone. In October, her mother was put on a transport and Margret went with her, even though her job exempted her from transports. When they arrived at Auschwitz, Margret’s mother broke down crying and they were separated. Margret was sent to a large room where she was forced to remove her clothes and give up her belongings. In order to not have to forfeit them, she hid her two prized possessions - a small photo of her sister and a tiny Star of David on a chain - in her mouth. She kept the items there throughout the process of showering and having her hair shaved off.

    Margret was in Auschwitz for three weeks when she and the other prisoners were told to form two lines because they were being sent out of the camp. Next to her in line was a young woman who had a twin sister in the other line. The twins started to cry and Margret thought they should not be separated so she changed places with one of them. Afraid of being found out for switching places, she took the girl’s name, Eva Pollacova, and went by that name until the end of the war. Margret later found that the twins had been taken to another camp and survived. Margret was taken to Sackisch‐Kudowa labor camp, a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Poland, on the border of Czechoslovakia. There she worked in an airplane factory. In May 1945, the German guards marched Margret and the other prisoners into Czechoslovakia where they were freed and taken in by local families. She was treated very well by the Czech family she stayed with. After the War, Margret went with a friend to Prague, then to a Zionist conference in Budapest, and finally made her way back to Theresienstadt, as she wanted to know for certain what had happened to her family. She found that her sister had perished in Riga and her mother and father had been murdered at Auschwitz.

    In the summer of 1945, Margret made her way to Deggendorf displaced persons camp in Germany where she met her future husband, Felix Huber. Prior to Deggendorf, Felix (1913-1970) had been at a forced labor camp in Linden, Germany, Theresienstadt, and Auschwitz. While at Deggendorf, Margret was active in a theater group that put on productions at the camp. In May 1946, Margret and Felix boarded the small ship the Marine Perch and made their way to the United States. After a couple of weeks in New York, they made their way to Margret’s relatives in St. Louis, Missouri. Margret and Felix married a year and a half later and had two children. Felix Huber, passed away at age 57. She married her second husband Jack Hantman in 1971. Margret currently resides in New York.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Photographs
    Physical Description
    The a-b component designations have been added for cataloging purposes only:
    a.Small, rectangular picture frame made from three layers of coarse, brown, burlap material sewn together. The top layer has a long, narrow opening cut out of the center to display the photograph (b). Black vinyl adhesive tape is adhered diagonally to each of the four corners of the top layer to form a decorative element. The middle layer is stitched to the top layer around the bottom and side edges, but the top is left open. The back layer is stitched to the middle layer at the top and partway down the sides but the bottom is left open to form a hinged stand. A small remnant of a cord is attached to the top center.
    b.Black and white photographic portrait of a young woman with her head turned to her right. She is wearing a geometric patterned shirt, and a round pendant or watch extends from a chain underneath the lapel of her collared jacket. There are three deep horizontal creases resulting in loss of the top surface.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    Materials
    a : burlap, adhesive tape, thread
    b : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The photograph and frame were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Margret Hantman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-03-03 10:49:33
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn594801

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