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Kirstein family photographs

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2018.624.1

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    Kirstein family photographs

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    The Kirstein family photographs contains two photographs of a Zionist rally at an unidentified displaced persons camp, likely in Germany. The photographs show Jewish children sitting in front of banners and posters with Hebrew slogans and images of Zionist leaders. Sara Kirstein, later Sara Scolnick, and her parents Abraham and Manya Kirstein are likely pictured in the photographs, circa 1947-1949.
    creation:  circa 1947-1949
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sara Scolnick.
    Collection Creator
    Kirstein family
    Abram Kirsztajn (Abraham Kirstein, 1908-2003) was born on July 23, 1908 to Zyndel and Shaina Sura Kirsztajn (née Sura, d. 1920). He was the fourth of six children. Two boys died in childhood. The surviving children were Hindel Bluma (later Goldberg, b. 1905), Abram, Manya, Leah, and Chaim Lazar. Their mother, Shaina Sura, suffered a brain aneurysm and died in 1920. Their father remarried and had an additional six children with his second wife Chana (Shaina Sura’s sister). The family was Orthodox and Chassidic.

    Zyndel and Abram manufactured high end paper boxes. On September 4, 1930 Abram married Sura Gitla Leczycka. They had three boys: twins Chaim Jojna and Majer Fiszel (October 27, 1932-1944) and Jakob (March 29, 1937-1944).

    In February 1940, the Germans established the Łódź ghetto, which the Germans referred to as Litzmanstadt. The Kirsztajn home fell within the boundries of the ghetto, and the family was forced to share their apartment with two additional families. The Germans confiscated Abram's box making machinery and he was sent to work in the ghetto’s paper factory with his twin boys. Zyndel Kirsztajn died of starvation in the ghetto. Despite the twins having official work papers, on September 7, 1942, Abram’s sons were caught up in the Gehsperre Aktion, along with the other children in the ghetto. The children were taken to the ghetto hospital, then deported to the Chelmno concentration camp where they perished.

    In August 1944, the Germans liquidated the Łódź ghetto. Abram and Sura Gitla were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp where Sura perished upon arrival. After a few weeks, Abram with a group of other "able bodied men," was transferred to the Kaufering sub-camp of Dachau concentration camp. Tasked with forced labor, he dug trenches for cables and cut trees in the forest. He contracted typhus and became quite ill. Shortly before liberation, Abram was transferred to the main camp of Dachau where he was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. He weighed only 55 pounds.

    Rabbi Abraham Klausner, a US Army chaplain was send to the Dachau concentration camp. There he found the Jewish prisoners most in need of medical help, among them Abram Kirsztajn. He arranged for Abram to obtain better medical help and convalesce at St. Ottilien, a displaced persons camp (DP camp) and hospital. Several weeks later, Abram met Manya Blacher and her sister and brother-in-law, Josef and Miriam Glasrot, on a train platform while returning to Saint Ottilien from Munich, Germany. The three traveled back together and a courtship ensued. Abram and Manya married on January 14, 1946. Their daughter Sara was born on April 13, 1947. At some point, Abram changed the spelling of his name to Abraham Kirstein. In June 1949, the family immigrated to the United States on board the Marine Jumper, a former troop ship used to transport refuges to the States. They arrived in New York City on June 24, 1949 and settled in the Boston area with the help of a cousin, Samuel Poorvu. Their son, Jerome Samuel was born on October 5, 1950. Abram Kirsztajn died on May 9, 2003.

    Manya (Michla) Blacher Katz (later Kirstein) was born on December 31, 1910 in Lithuania to Nechama Yentl and Yerucham Blacher. She had seven younger siblings: Reuven, Henoch, Yehoshua, Matisyahu, Miriam and the twins Shaina and Faiga. She married Yitzhak Katz and had a daughter Minna. In June 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union and the Baltic States. Yitzhak Katz was into the Russian army was killed right after the action began. In June 1941, her brother Yehoshua Blacher was murdered in the Slobodka Yeshiva massacre in Kaunas, Lithuania. Her daughter Minna died from medical complications and disease. On October 6, 1941, her parents and most of her siblings were murdered in the Semeliakes Ghetto massacre perpetrated by the Einzatzgruppen. Manya escaped to the forest, and her sister Miriam and brother-in-law Josef Glasrot escaped to live among the partisans. After the massacres, Manya traveled to the Soviet interior and Kazakhstan where she worked on a collective farm. Josef, traveled to Kazakhstan and they traveled under false identification papers. Together Manya, Miriam and Josef traveled to Austria and then Germany, where Manya met and married Abram Kirsztajn.

    Physical Details

    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Kirstein family photographs are arranged in a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Sara Scolnick donated the Kirstein family photographs to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:34:46
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