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Decorative leather charm owned by a female Hungarian Jewish slave laborer

Object | Accession Number: 2017.645.3

Heart shaped leather charm with a small, rectangular, leather wrapped piece of paper that Ilona thought was made from a Mezuzah. It was made by prisoners in Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland, and worn on a camp issued wooden clog by Ilona Kellner (later Elena Kalina), while a prisoner in Hessisch Lichtenau forced labor camp between September 19, 1944, and April 25, 1945. During the 1930s, Ilona worked as a teacher or governess and lived in Pelsöc, Hungary (now Plešivec, Slovakia), with her parents, Karoly and Jolan, and younger sister, Vera. In 1938, Hungary’s fascist regime adopted anti-Semitic measures based upon the Nuremberg racial laws in Germany. In November 1940, Hungary joined the Axis Alliance. In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary and began deporting all Hungarian Jews to concentration camps. On May 8, Ilona and Vera were arrested, and in June, they were deported to Auschwitz. Their parents, Karoly and Jolan, were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center, where they died later that year. By August 2, Ilona and Vera were in Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, where they had been deported to fill a labor shortage. On September 19, Ilona and Vera were transported to Hessisch Lichtenau, a Buchenwald subcamp, and issued prisoner patches. At the camp, 1,000 Jewish Hungarian women worked in an explosive munitions factory run by Fabrik Hessisch Lichtenau GmbH. In late March 1945, the camp was evacuated and the women were taken to Leipzig by train. From there, they were sent on a forced march to Wurzen, where they were liberated by US forces on April 25.

1944 June 13-1944 July  (creation)
1944 June 13-1945 April 25  (use)
creation : Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Oswiecim (Poland)
use : Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Oswiecim (Poland)
use : Buchenwald (Concentration camp); Weimar (Thuringia, Germany)
use : Hessisch Lichtenau (Concentration camp); Hessisch Lichtenau (Germany)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Eva Moreimi, in loving memory of her parents: Ilona Kellner Kalinova and Ernest Kaufmann Kalina
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Record last modified: 2018-11-09 08:28:53
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