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Handmade Star of David pendant given to an American liberator by a Polish Jewish slave laborer

Object | Accession Number: 1992.164.1 b

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    Handmade Star of David pendant given to an American liberator by a Polish Jewish slave laborer

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Handmade, beaded, Star of David pendant given to US Private First Class Marvin Dorf by a young Polish woman, who he helped free from a forced labor transport near Munich, Germany, in April 1945. Marvin grew up in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Germany’s subsequent declaration of war on the United States, Marvin enlisted in the United States Army in October 1942, where he was assigned to Troop E of the 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squad (Mechanized), 12th Armored Division. In April 1945, He arrived in Europe in the fall of 1944, and took part in the drive to Germany’s Rhine River in March 1945. In April, Marvin’s unit was near Munich, Germany, and he was sent out on reconnaissance because he spoke German. In one town, he learned of a disabled train that had been damaged by American planes and was guarded by German soldiers. The captain allowed him to take a group of men to investigate the train, and they easily ran off the German guards with little force. When Marvin and his group opened the train doors, they saw hundreds of sick and dying prisoners from a German labor camp. Among those prisoners was a young Polish woman and her little sister, who was badly injured from a munitions factory accident. The older sister gave him a handmade Star of David necklace with a Hebrew abbreviation for God, which she had hidden in a secret hem in her skirt. Marvin’s division was relieved on May 4 (three days before Germany surrendered to the Allies), and assigned to security duty until November 22, when they sailed back to the United States.
    Date
    received:  1945 April
    Geography
    received: Germany
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Marvin Dorf
    Markings
    b. Center, beaded, red plastic beads : Hebrew character [He]
    Contributor
    Subject: Marvin Dorf
    Biography
    Marvin Dorf (1923-2006) was born in the Bronx, New York City, to Adolf (1894-1982) and Rose (nee Goldman, 1899-?) Dorf. Rose had emigrated from Russia in 1906, and Adolf emigrated from Austria in 1914, and found work as a tinsmith. Marvin had two older sisters, Sylvia (later Katz, 1920-2008) and Mildred (later Borgerson, 1921-?), as well as a younger sister, Estelle (later Rosenberg, 1928-2006).

    While Britain and France declared war on Germany in September 1939, the United States remained neutral until the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Germany declared war on the United States on December 11. Marvin completed three years of high school, and worked as a metal smith before enlisting as a private in the army on October 24, 1942. He was assigned to Troop E of the 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squad (Mechanized), 12th Armored Division. The 92nd consisted of four recon troops, an assault gun troop, and a light tank company. Troop E served as the assault gun troop. On September 20, 1944, the squadron embarked from New York, arriving in England in early October. In November, they left England for Le Havre, France. Beginning on March 18, 1945, they took part in the drive to the Rhine River in Germany, and crossed it on March 28.

    In April 1945, Marvin’s unit was near Munich, Germany, and he was sent out on reconnaissance because he spoke German. In one town, he learned of a disabled train that had been damaged by American planes and was being guarded by soldiers. The captain allowed him to take a group of men with him to investigate the train, and they easily ran off the German guards with little force. When Marvin and his group opened the train doors, they were met with the sight of hundreds of sick and dying prisoners from a German labor camp. Some of the prisoners died almost immediately, while others died after eating rations from the American soldiers, which were too rich for the malnourished prisoners to digest.

    Marvin also spoke Yiddish, so when one of the men on the train asked Marvin to write a letter to his brother, who happened to live a few blocks from his home in New York, he was able to understand the request and do so. Other prisoners that interacted with Marvin were a young Polish woman and her younger sister, who had been badly injured in a munitions factory accident. The older sister gave him a handmade Star of David necklace, which she had hidden in a secret hem in her skirt.

    Marvin was also part of the American forces that liberated Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. The 12th Armored Division was relieved on May 4 (three days before Germany surrendered to the Allies),, and assigned to security duty until November 22, when they sailed from Marseille back to the United States. Marvin was released from the Army on December 5, 1945. Following the war, he worked as a sheet metal draftsman and later in the air conditioning industry. He had two children with his wife, Lorraine (1932-2018). After his retirement, the couple moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where Marvin lived until his death.

    Physical Details

    Language
    Hebrew
    Classification
    Jewelry
    Category
    Necklaces
    Object Type
    Necklaces (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Pendants (Jewelry)
    Physical Description
    b. Handmade pendant comprised of sixteen rows of red and white hard plastic beads threaded onto a thin, copper-colored wire to form a six-pointed star. At the top of the pendant, the wire has been twisted to form a suspension loop for a chain. The outline of the star is made up of red beads and filled in with white. In the center, red beads form a Hebrew character. The beads are uneven in length, as if they were cut from a piece of wire coating, and the white beads have yellowed with age.
    Dimensions
    b: Height: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm) | Width: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm)
    Materials
    b : plastic, metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The pendant was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992 by Marvin Dorf.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-25 16:36:29
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn5959

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