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White, monogrammed tablecloth belonging to the family of a German Rabbi

Object | Accession Number: 2018.290.1

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    White, monogrammed tablecloth belonging to the family of a German Rabbi
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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Finely woven, linen tablecloth, embroidered with the initials of Martha Wilde, wife of Rabbi Georg Wilde, who fled Germany in 1939. Rabbi Dr. Georg Wilde attended the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), and received a doctorate in 1901. He married Breslau-born Martha Spitz, and the couple moved to Magdeburg. In 1906, Georg began serving as rabbi for the largest of Magdeburg’s three congregations, the Synagogen-Gemeinde zu Magdeburg. During World War I, Georg served as a field rabbi and presided over both Jewish and interfaith burials. While in Magdeburg, Georg functioned as an integral leader of the Jewish community, and belonged to a number of Jewish organizations and welfare associations. The morning following Kristallnacht in November 1938, Georg was arrested and learned that his synagogue had been targeted for destruction. Holy texts were burned, valuables looted, and explosives ignited inside. He was soon imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp. While on the train to Buchenwald, Georg threw postcards addressed to his wife out the window at multiple stops, one of which made it back to her. After eleven days of harsh treatment, lack of nourishment, and poor sanitary conditions, Georg was released on the condition that he would prepare to emigrate from Germany. During Georg’s imprisonment, Martha contacted the Chief Rabbi in London, who aided their passage to England in March 1939. The couple lived in Middlesex county and Cambridge, and became active in their new Jewish community.
    Date
    use:  before 1959
    Geography
    use: Europe
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Elizabeth Irene Newhouse
    Contributor
    Subject: Georg Wilde
    Original owner: Georg Wilde
    Biography
    Rabbi Dr. Georg Wilde (1877-1949) was born to Louis and Therese (nee Bab) Wilde in Meseritz-Stadt, Germany. He had three brothers, Max (1875-?), Alfred (1879-1880), and Albert (1882-1916). In 1897, he began studying at the University of Breslau and attended the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), earning a doctorate in 1901.

    Georg married Martha Spitz (1888-1959), who was born in Breslau to Baruch (1854-1932) and Elise Spitz (1859-1942). Martha had one sister, Hedwig (later Schüler, 1890-1975). George and Martha moved to Magdeburg, a city west of Berlin with almost 2,000 Jewish residents. On August 1, 1906, Georg began serving as rabbi for the largest of Magdeburg’s three congregations, the Synagogen-Gemeinde zu Magdeburg. During World War I, which spanned from 1914 to 1918, Georg served as a field rabbi and presided over both Jewish and interfaith burials.

    While in Magdeburg, Georg functioned as an integral part of the Jewish community. He was a member of the Allgemeiner Rabbinerverband Deutschlands (General Rabbi Association of Germany) and the Vereinigung der liberalen Rabbiner Deutschlands (Association of liberal rabbis of Germany). Georg also served as president of the Mendelssohn Loge and as president for the Provinzial-Verband für jüdische Wohlfahrtspflege (Provincial Association for Jewish Welfare), which spearheaded economic initiatives in response to the Nazi restrictions on Jewish economic life. The association also became the major source of welfare assistance to the Jewish community in Magdeburg. In addition to Georg’s activities, Magdeburg also had a Jewish school, several Jewish youth clubs, over 400 Jewish-owned businesses, and many Jewish professionals. While the ties among the Magdeburg’s Jewish community were strong, they were largely assimilated into the larger city culture, and Georg held a deep-seated German-Jewish identity.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. The German authorities passed anti-Jewish decrees that restricted every aspect of Jewish life. Growing antisemitism and violence led many Jews to leave Magdeburg. When Jewish children were prohibited from attending the German public schools, the Jewish school continued to provide them with regular schooling. On the night of November 9, 1938, German officials instigated pogroms of violence and destruction against Jews and their property, known as Kristallnacht. The following morning, the SA (or Sturmabteilung, a paramilitary organization) went to Georg’s synagogue, burned the Holy texts, looted valuables, and ignited explosives inside. Georg was among the 375 men that the Gestapo arrested the following morning, and was among the 100 that were forcibly transported to Buchenwald concentration camp. While on the train to Buchenwald, Georg threw postcards addressed to his wife out the window at multiple stops, one of which made it back to her. Upon arriving at the camp, the train passengers were forced to run into the main square and were beaten by SS guards. Georg was crammed into a barrack with 1,600 other men during the nights, and was forced to stand outside during the days. Continued beatings, little food, no water, and poor hygienic conditions led some prisoners to die or commit suicide. After eleven days, Georg and 193 other men were released from Buchenwald on the condition that they would prepare to emigrate from Germany.

    During Georg’s imprisonment, his wife, Martha, contacted the Chief Rabbi in London, Dr. Hertz, who aided their passage to England. Georg and Martha arrived in England on March 31st, 1939, leaving their families behind in Germany. The couple lived in Middlesex county and Cambridge until their deaths. Although Georg became active in their new Jewish community, he did not lead another congregation.

    Martha’s sister, Hedwig, later immigrated to the United States with her husband, Alfred. They arrived in New York on November 22, 1940. Martha’s mother, Elise, was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia on August 31, 1942 aboard Transport IX/2. Elise died in Theresienstadt on October 26, 1942.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Furnishings and Furniture
    Category
    Household linens
    Object Type
    Tablecloths (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Tablecloths.
    Physical Description
    Finely woven, rectangular, white linen tablecloth with repeating floral, heart, and scroll patterning. There are selvedge edges along both long sides, and the short ends have been turned under and machine stitched. In one corner, there are two uppercase, cursive initials satin stitched with white thread.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 73.750 inches (187.325 cm) | Width: 59.250 inches (150.495 cm)
    Materials
    overall : linen, thread
    Inscription
    front, corner, embroidered, white thread : MW (Martha Wilde)

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The tablecloth was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Elizabeth Irene Newhouse, grand-niece of Georg and Martha Wilde.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-28 07:54:11
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn619189

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