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Watercolor of five people under a vine painted by an orphan child at Lingfield House

Object | Accession Number: 2007.423.17

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    Brief Narrative
    Post-war painting depicting children under a vine with hanging fruit, likely celebrating the Sukkot holiday. Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that celebrates harvest and commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert. The drawing was made for Alice Goldberger by a child at Weir Courtney, an estate home in Surrey England where orphaned children who survived internment in concentration camps were cared for after the war. Alice, the matron of Weir Courtney, gave this and other artwork to former resident Judith Sherman. Judith and her younger sister Mirjam were from the village of Kurima in Czechoslovakia. In 1942, the situation became increasingly dangerous for Jews, and the sisters were sent into hiding in Hungary by their family. Mirjam remained with a family in hiding, but Judith was captured while hiding in the forest and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Their parents, brother, and numerous extended family members were all killed in concentration camps. After the war, the sisters were sent to England to live at Weir Courtney along with 22 other child survivors. The home provided a safe, caring, and nourishing environment for the children. Aside from their regular studies, the children gardened, studied music and dance, learned Hebrew, and were encouraged to create art.
    creation:  after 1945-before 1949
    creation: Lingfield (England)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Judith Sherman
    Original owner: Alice Goldberger
    Subject: Alice Goldberger
    Subject: Judith H. Sherman
    Alice Goldberger (1897-1986) was born in Berlin, Germany. She was trained as a youth-work instructor and became the head of a state run shelter for disadvantaged children and their families. When Hitler came to power, Alice being Jewish, was forced to give up her post. She immigrated to England in 1939, on one of the last boats out of Europe. When war broke out, Alice was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien. She set about organizing a nursery school for the children of the internees, and involved the parents in making equipment and toys. The success of this venture was reported in the daily newspaper, and when Anna Freud, psychoanalyst and daughter of Sigmund Freud, read the account she decided that Alice was the right person to run her residential wartime nursery. Through Anna’s intervention, Alice was released and became the superintendent of the country-house nursery for the children of working war-time mothers. Later, she joined the first Training Course of the Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic (now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families).

    In 1945, after the end of the war and the liberation of the concentration camps, the Central British Fund brought child survivors, some still infants, from Europe to England. Authorized to bring 1000 children, the Fund could only find 732. Some of these children were given to the care of Alice. She had lost her entire family in the Holocaust and was eager to assist. By the end of 1945, Alice and the children moved into a large estate in the Lingfield, Surrey region, donated by Sir Benjamin Drage, and named Weir Courtney. Alice became mother, caretaker, advocate, and teacher to the 24 refugee children who lived at Weir Courtney, some as young as four years old. She worked diligently to get the children adopted into foster homes or reunited with living family members.

    Some of the children had spent the war in hiding, the rest had been in concentration camps including Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and Theresienstadt. Several of the children had survived because they had been Mengele’s medical experiment subjects. In 1948, when some of the older children had left, Alice and the remaining children moved to London and settled in Lingfield House, where they remained until all the children had come of age and could live on their own. Alice was honored on the “This is Your Life” television program in 1978, where she was reunited with the children, many of whom she had not seen in 30 years. Alice passed away at age 89 in 1986.
    Judith Sherman (nee Stern) (b. 1929) was born in the village of Kurima in Prešov, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) to Ernest Stern (1905-1945) and Ilona (Elena/Helen) Sofer-Weinstock Sternova (1907-1944). She had an older sister Olga, who died young, a younger brother Karoly (1934-1944), and younger sister, Mirjam (1936-2017). Judith’s father owned land and a store with her uncle, and her parents worked in the store. The family lived on a large estate with many extended family members including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. While they were well off, they did not live luxuriously, and were very charitable to those less fortunate in the community. They were orthodox, kept kosher, and observed Shabbat. Anti-Semitism only became apparent in Judith’s village after Jews were labeled as undesirables and required to be identified.

    Germany invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and the deportation of Jews began gradually and was carried out by local police, not German soldiers. In September 1939, during Germany’s occupation of Poland, soldiers travelled through their village en route to Poland and broke into their home looking for a fugitive they thought was Judith’s uncle and threatened to shoot the family. Judith’s family realized the situation was becoming increasingly more dangerous for Jews and in 1942 her family decided to smuggle the children (Judith, her siblings, and her cousins) into Hungary. The children were split into two groups to increase their odds of survival, and were sent into hiding. Judith’s parents were later smuggled over the border into Hungary. When Germany occupied Hungary in March 1944, deportations occurred quickly, and in April, Judith’s parents were sent to Sered’ transit camp. The children lived with various families in hiding until a neighbor betrayed them. Judith and her sister Mirjam were found and taken to prison. A family friend managed to smuggle them out, and Mirjam went into hiding with a different family while Judith, along with some other family members, hid in the forest. German soldiers found them and imprisoned them in September. Judith’s brother, aunt, and cousins had also been captured and deported to Auschwitz concentration camp.

    In October, Judith was put on a train to Auschwitz, but the camp was full and she was taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp instead. She was given the prisoner number 83621. At Ravensbrück, Judith discovered one of her aunts had survived and was also there. Judith recalled the initial shock of seeing dead bodies strewn in the washrooms where they would remain for days before being carted off. She became ill with a cough and was sent to the hospital where doctors performed treatments. She is unsure if the treatments were medically acceptable or experimental, but she did not get better and was taken to Barrack 10, where prisoners were sent to die. The guard, a German political prisoner, took a liking to Judith and gave her extra food and warm clothing and she recovered. In the spring of 1945, Judith and the remaining prisoners were marched out of the camp as Soviet troops began closing in. They were forced to march under guard and slept outdoors in fields. One morning they woke to find the SS Guards had vanished only to be replaced by Soviet soldiers. However, liberation did not bring immediate relief, as the Soviet soldiers randomly raped and shot some prisoners.

    After the war ended in May 1945, Judith made her way back to her village in Czechoslovakia. She learned that many members of her family had perished in concentration camps - her brother at Auschwitz, her mother at Sered’ and her father at Sachsenburg. She was reunited with her sister Mirjam who had survived by remaining in hiding. In 1946, she and her sister went to England under the British Government’s “Children from the Concentration Camp Schemes”, which allowed orphaned child camp survivors to enter the United Kingdom. Judith and Mirjam stayed at a hostel with several pairs of twins who had been subjected to experimentation by Mengele. After several months, they were taken to Weir Courtney, an estate in Lingfield, Surrey. They were part of a group of 24 children camp survivors who lived at the estate under the care of Alice Goldberger. The environment at Weir Courtney was nourishing and healing, and Judith described it as a perfect chapter in her life after the horrors of war. Most of the children were adopted to families or reunited with relatives.

    Several children, including Judith and her sister, remained with Alice, and in1948 they moved to a home in London so they would be less isolated. Judith had a difficult time transitioning, but managed to complete school and attended the London School of Economics. In 1953, she traveled to Israel where she met and married her husband Robert (Ruben) Sherman. The couple stayed with Alice in the UK for a short time and eventually Judith immigrated to the United States where Ruben’s family lived. They settled in New Brunswick, Connecticut, and had two children. Judith did not speak openly about her experiences for many years, but eventually began to speak out publicly and in 2005, wrote a book about her experience entitled “Say the Name: A Survivor's Tale in Prose and Poetry.”

    Physical Details

    Children's art
    Physical Description
    Watercolor painting on cream colored paper depicting five figures standing outside underneath a vine with hanging fruit. Two of the figures are in the foreground: a male wearing a purple shirt and blue pants with a pipe in his mouth and a female with black hair wearing a green dress. The other three figures are in the background: a female wearing a red dress holding a purple flag, a male wearing a yellow shirt and brown pants holding a blue flag, and a female in a red and black plaid dress holding a blue flag. The lower portion of the background is painted gray, and the upper portion yellow. Along the top edge is a stylized, leafy green vine with grapes, apples, and pears hanging from brown, curved limbs. On the back is an unfinished pencil sketch of a girl in a dress with cap sleeves and a tulip shaped skirt with her hair in a side ponytail. There is brown adhesive residue and surface loss present along the side edges. A large vertical crease runs down the center of the painting.
    overall: Height: 14.625 inches (37.148 cm) | Width: 21.750 inches (55.245 cm)
    overall : paper, watercolor, pencil, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Sherman, Judith H.

    Administrative Notes

    The watercolor painting was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007 by Judith Sherman, an orphaned child cared for by Alice Goldberger.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:26:53
    This page:

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