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Bear, a stuffed koala bear, with modern covering, carried by a German Jewish girl on a Kindertransport

Object | Accession Number: 2013.476.8 a-b

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    Bear, a stuffed koala bear, with modern covering, carried by a German Jewish girl on a Kindertransport

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Stuffed koala bear named Bear, with cover knitted by Gisela in 2001, carried by Gisela Marx, 14, on a Kindertransport from Dulken, Germany, to Great Britain in August 1939. The Nazi regime, in power since 1933, persecuted the Jewish population. Leopold, a former diplomat and WWI veteran, and Erna, a member of a wealthy, landowning family, thought their status would protect them, but in 1939, they decided to send Gisela to safety. The friend paid to care for her never showed up, and she was sent to live with an Orthodox rabbi, and then to boarding school. In 1941, Gisela had to perform military service and she became a nurse. She worked in a children’s hospital in London. When it was bombed during the Blitz, she was transferred to an American military hospital in Surrey. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Gisela’s parents were deported and killed in the Riga Ghetto in December 1941.
    Date
    use:  1939 August
    Geography
    received: Germany
    received: Dulken (Viersen, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of The George Washington University and the Estate of John P. Eden
    Contributor
    Subject: Gisela A. Eden
    Biography
    Gisela Amalie Marx was born on April 24, 1925, in Dulken, Germany, the nly daighter of a Jewish couple, Leopold and Erna Lifges Marx. Her father Leopold was born on November 28, 1882, in Dulken. Leopold had two sisters: Rosetta (Rosa) and Eva. He was in the German Army in World War I (1914-1918) and was awarded an Iron Cross. Gisela’s mother Erna was born on July 23, 1892, in Suchteln, Germany. Erna’s family was very wealthy and the largest landowners in Westphalia. Leopold and Erna met in Paris, where Leopold was a junior diplomat and Erna was a correspondent. Gisela’s family kept kosher and observed the holidays, but were not very religious.

    In January 1933, Hitler came to power and, by summer, Germany was ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. Anti-Jewish policies were soon enacted. Leopold and Erna believed they had some protection because of their wealth and Leopold’s status as a veteran and diplomat. Still, they decided to send Gisela to England on a Kindertransport as the persecution worsened. Leopold sent money to a friend in England, who agreed to care for Gisela after she arrived. Gisela traveled from Cologne to Holland by train, then sailed to England, arriving on August 25, 1939. Her father’s friend never arrived to claim her. Gisela and two other abandoned children were sent to live with an Orthodox rabbi. Gisela had a very difficult time adjusting because she was not raised to be observant and did not speak English. A member of the Jewish Refugee Committee had Gisela sent to a boarding school in Lancashire. In 1941, Gisela was called for military service after she turned sixteen. She had to choose between the army, police, or nursing. Gisela chose to study nursing and worked at a children’s hospital in London. The hospital was bombed during the Blitz, the nightly German air raids on London from fall 1940 - May 1941. Gisela was transferred to an American military hospital in Surrey, where she cared for wounded American soldiers. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

    Gisela’s family perished in the Holocaust. Her parents, Leopold and Erna, were deported from Dusseldorf to the Riga ghetto on December 11, 1941, where they died. Gisela’s paternal aunts Eva and Rosa were deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, and were killed. Gisela worked at a nursery for disabled children, then received a grant to study Fine Arts at Cambridge. In 1950, Gisela received a Red Cross letter from a pastor in Dulken. Before Gisela’s parents were taken away, they had entrusted the pastor with their family jewelry and Judaica. They asked him to get the items to Gisela if they did not return. The pastor buried the items in his cellar. He was later arrested and interned in a concentration camp for preaching anti-Nazi sermons. Gisela and an American friend went to Dulken to retrieve her family belongings. She encountered anti-Semitism while she was there and was not able to recover her family’s assets. The pastor told her that Leopold and Erna believed that they were being sent to Theresienstadt. Upon her return to Cambridge, Gisela contacted an American friend who was related to the US ambassador in Italy. He helped Gisela get a visa to the US, despite the quota. On December 19, 1954, Gisela sailed from Liverpool, England, on the SS Ascania, arriving in New York on December 30. She settled in New York. She worked as a nurse, file clerk, and executive secretary. Gisela met John Peter Eden (1923-2013) at a British social club event. John was sent from Czechoslovakia on a Kindertransport to England in 1939. He emigrated to the US in 1950. The couple married in 1958 and settled in Washington DC. Gisela, age 87, passed away on August 20, 2012. John, age 85, died on May 29, 2013.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Toys
    Category
    Stuffed animals
    Physical Description
    a. Small, light brown stiff leather koala bear covered with brown and white artificial fur and stuffed with a firm material. The bear sits upright on a flat bottom. The large head is sewn on with light brown thread, and it has no neck. It has pointed ears with white fur on the front. It has stitched eyebrows and a black, plastic oval nose with a pushed in snout. The eyes have been lost. It has short stubby fore and hind legs that stick out in front. The right hind leg has a black plastic paw with 4 claws; the left fore and hind leg have fragments of black plastic in the seams. Both forelegs have handstitched repairs in the front edge. The fur has rubbed off in several places that protrude, such as the ear tips, snout, and back, from being held.
    b. Rib stitched, handknit, square, offwhite yarn covering with a black elastic drawstring cord threaded around the upper edge. The covering was made in 2001.
    Dimensions
    a: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 4.125 inches (10.477 cm) | Depth: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm)
    b: Height: 3.375 inches (8.573 cm) | Width: 3.625 inches (9.208 cm)
    Materials
    a : leather, cloth, plastic, thread
    b : yarn, cloth

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The stuffed koala bear was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by The George Washington University, which received the item as a bequest from the Estate of John P. Eden.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-09-21 10:48:38
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn609624

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