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Flake of mica collected from Theresienstadt by a German Jewish factory worker

Object | Accession Number: 2016.552.4

Thin flake of mica collected by Selma Ansbacher from the mica separation facility at Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, where she was forced to work between fall 1942 and May 1945. During four 8-hour shifts, 250 women worked at a time at long tables and used specially designed flat knives to split the stone into paper-thin sheets for various industrial applications. In September 1942, Selma, her husband, Ludwig, and her daughter, Sigrid, were deported from Frankfurt, Germany to Theresienstadt. Initially, Selma worked as a group leader in the kitchen, peeling potatoes for soups. She became known as the “Potato Queen,” letting the women go each day without checking their pockets, allowing them to take home potatoes to supplement the meager rations. She later worked in the mica-splitting facility, a job that contributed to the war effort, which she tried to use as leverage when Sigrid was assigned to a transport out of Theresienstadt. Selma wrote a letter to the Central Secretariat, begging him to keep Sigrid off the transport. Her plea went unheeded, and Sigrid was deported to a number of concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen in Germany, where she was liberated by British forces on April 15, 1945. Selma and Ludwig remained at Theresienstadt until the Soviet Army liberated the camp on May 9, 1945. The couple moved back to Frankfurt, Germany before immigrating to the United States in July 1946, where Sigrid joined them the following December.

acquired:  after 1942 September 16-before 1945 May 09
acquired: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
Object Type
Mica (lcsh)
Mica mining.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sigrid Jean Ansbacher Strauss
Record last modified: 2023-02-23 16:51:17
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