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Leather tallit pouch made by an inmate in a Dutch detention center

Object | Accession Number: 2012.485.11

Leather tallit bag made by Fritz Silberschmidt in Zeeburgerdijk quarantine center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in fall 1939. Fritz looked after an elderly orthodox rabbi who was ill and dying. The rabbi entrusted Fritz with his tallit, the prayer shawl that was his only possession and had been in his family for generations. Fritz saved and used the tallit for High Holidays for the rest of his life, and was buried in it upon his death in 1991. Fritz made shoes in the camp and secretly sewed this pouch from leather scraps he saved from work. It was pig leather, but Fritz felt since it was the only thing available, God would understand. He used the pouch to protect the tallit for over fifty years. Fritz, with his wife Juliane, mother Selma, and brother Rudolph fled Nazi Germany in 1939. Once Germany invaded Poland that September, even legal emigrants were detained as enemy aliens. Fritz was soon released and he and Juliane left for America in January 1940. Fritz's brother Rudolph was murdered in Auschwitz in September 1942. His mother survived in hiding and joined him in the US.

creation:  after 1939 September
creation: Zeeburgerdijk detention center; Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Jewish Art and Symbolism
Object Type
Tallith bags (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Peter Silversmith
Record last modified: 2021-02-10 09:26:35
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