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Enameled metal soup plate used by a Jewish Polish man in a displaced persons camp

Object | Accession Number: 2018.369.5

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    Enameled metal soup plate used by a Jewish Polish man in a displaced persons camp


    Brief Narrative
    Enameled bowl used by Szapse (Charles) Bilfeld while living in Displaced Persons (DP) camps near Ulm, Germany, with his family between 1946 and 1949. Szapse, his wife Malka, their son Mozes, and their Bilfeld and Fuchs relatives were living in Majdan / Majdan Królewski (also known as Kolbuszowa), Poland, when German forces invaded on September 12, 1939. Majdan remained under German control when the Soviet Union annexed eastern Poland in mid-September. By the beginning of 1940, Jews in Majdan were only allowed to leave the village if they did so as part of a forced labor battalion. In July, Szapse, Malka, Mozes, Szapse’s brother, Yankel, and most of the Fuchs family fled east into Soviet-occupied Poland. They hid for more than a year, resting during the day, traveling at night, and stealing food as needed. In 1941, they found themselves in Kamionka Struminlova (now Kam'ianka-Buz’ka, Ukraine). Later, they continued traveling to the east, and spent time hiding in the mountainous areas near many towns in the Soviet Union. During 1942, the family was forced into slave labor camps in the region. After the war ended in May 1945, the Bilfeld and Fuchs families made their way to the American zone in Germany. Szapse learned that his parents and three other siblings had been killed, possibly in 1941. In Ulm, Malka’s family was reunited with Leiser. In 1948, Malka gave birth to their daughter, Chana. In November 1949, the Bilfeld family immigrated to the United States, and most of the Fuchs family immigrated to Israel.
    use:  approximately 1946-approximately 1949
    use: Ulm (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Anna Moscovitch
    Subject: Charles Bilfeld
    Szapse Bilfed (later Charles, 1908-1998) was born in Majdan Królewski (also known as Majdan Kolbuszowa or Majdan), Poland, to Hirsch Tzvi (1866-1941), a merchant, and Clara Khana (1887-?) Wolf Bilfeld. Szapse had seven siblings: Minna (later Bass, 1909-2000), Anna, Barrish (1911-?), Mala (1920-?), Yankel (Yaakov, later Jakub, b.1922), Yisrael (1925-1941?), and Avrum (Avraham, 1927-1941?). The Jewish community of Majdan consisted of more than 500 people who were closely interconnected with one another and neighboring Jewish communities in the Kolbuszowa region by marriage, trade, and professional services. In 1921, Szapse’s sisters, Minna and Anna, immigrated to the United States. On August 8, 1937, Szapse married Malka Fuchs (1912 -2007), also of Majdan. Szapse and Malka ran a small dry goods store in town, and had a young son, Mozes (later Marvin, 1938-?). Malka was the daughter of Natan (1879-?) and Laia (Lea, 1883-?) Zimmermann Fuchs, and had eight siblings: Leiser (b.1906), Zalmon (1908-?), Gitel (later Weissman, 1910-?), Brandel (1914-?), Samuel (1916-?), Lana (later Lena Mandelkorn, 1916-?), Etta (1918-?), and Chaia (later Chust, 1920-?).

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded and occupied Poland. German forces entered Majdan on September 12, and began persecuting the local Jewish population. German authorities ordered the Jews to pour kerosene on the synagogue, and then forced them to dance around the building as it burned. All Jews were also required to wear yellow Star of David badges to identify themselves clearly. Not long after, Szapse and Malka, along with many other Jewish business owners, were forced to hand their stores over to the authorities under threat of physical violence. Many Jewish people in town disappeared suddenly, prompting many Jews to be compliant in order to avoid the same fate. Szapse’s father-in-law, Natan, and many of the Jewish men in town began working as forced laborers. In mid-September, the Soviet Union invaded Poland. As agreed in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, the invading nations divided Poland between them. All territory west of the Bug River, including Majdan, was annexed by Germany, and all territory to the east became part of the Soviet Union.

    By the beginning of 1940, most Jews in Majdan, including Szapse and Malka’s families, were required to stay in the village, unless they were carrying out forced labor for the authorities on nearby projects. In July, Szapse, Malka, Mozes, Szapse’s brother, Yankel, and most of the Fuchs family left town in the middle of the night, carrying nothing but the clothing on their backs. Malka’s brother, Leiser, and the rest of Szapse’s family remained behind. Szapse, Malka, and the others fled east into Soviet-occupied territory, where they hid for more than a year. They would rest during the day, travel at night, and steal the food they needed. They did not know where they were most of the time, and had no specific destination in mind. In 1941, they learned that they were in Kamionka Struminlova, in Soviet-occupied Poland (now Kam'ianka-Buz’ka, Ukraine) near Lwów (now Lviv). They hid out in the forests along the outskirts of towns for many months. They continued travelling to the east, and spent time hiding in the mountainous area near many towns in the Soviet Union, possibly including Obol'tsy (now Belarus) and others in the Molokovsky District of the Tver Oblast (now Russia). During 1942, the family was forced into Soviet slave labor camps. They lived and worked under harsh conditions. Malka often had to help cut, carry, and stack wood for hours and hours with little rest and minimal food. The family lived in one small, crowded wooden room with 12 adults and 5 children.

    After the war ended in May 1945, the Bilfeld and Fuchs families relocated to a series of Displaced Persons (DP) camps in the American Zone of Germany. By March 1946, they were living at Windischbergerdorf DP camp. In August 1946, they transferred to the area around Ulm, Germany, and spent some time living at both Ulm Sedan Kaserne and Donaubastion DP camps. While living at the camp, Szapse worked as a driver, a cutter, and a businessman, and Malka worked as a cleaning woman in the school. His brother Yankel had travelled with Szapse’s family and survived, but Szapse’s parents and three siblings, Mala, Yisrael, and Avrum, had been killed, possibly in 1941. His brother, Barrish, survived and later immigrated to the United States, though his wife and four children were killed in the Holocaust. In Ulm, Malka’s family was reunited with her eldest brother, Leiser. He had been arrested in Tarnobrzeg, in September 1939. He later became a forced laborer in a baukommando [construction battalion] along Vistula River for the German OrganizationTodt (OT) office in Thorn (now Torun´, Poland). Malka’s younger sister, Etta, died during the Holocaust. Szapse and Malka’s daughter, Chana (later Anna Moscovitch), was born in 1948, and Malka received a small pension, $23.50 US, for giving birth while they were living in the camp.

    Szapse, Malka, Mozes, and Chana travelled to Bremerhaven, Germany, in November 1949, where they boarded the USAT General Sturgis and immigrated to the United States. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and their sponsor, Moishe Zwetschkenbaum, supported their immigration. Szapse and his family arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 30. They settled in Chicago, Illinois, where Szapse worked as a shipping clerk. When he and Malka became naturalized citizens in 1955, Szapse Americanized his name to Charles. Mozes changed his name to Marvin, and Chana became Anna. In September 1963, Marvin married Gertrude Friedman (b.1944) of Chicago. Marvin was a self-employed decorator and remodeler. He became a U.S. citizen in 1966. Most of Malka’s family immigrated to Israel in 1949, though her sisters, Lana and Gitel, went to Montreal, Canada, and New York City, respectively. Malka’s brother, Samuel, later left Israel and settled in Chicago as well.

    Physical Details

    Household Utensils
    Bowls (Tableware)
    Physical Description
    Shallow, circular, metal soup plate coated with discolored, white enamel paint. The base is flat and the low slides slope up and out slightly before extending into a half inch-wide, flat rim with a rounded lip. There are small dents in the body and the enamel is worn and cracked throughout. The enamel is chipping off along the rim, and sections of it are missing within the bowl and on the underside of the base. Wherever the silver-colored metal is exposed, it is rusty and discolored.
    overall: Height: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm) | Diameter: 9.500 inches (24.13 cm)
    overall : metal, enamel paint

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The soup plate was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Anna Moscovitch, the daughter of Charles and Malka Bilfeld.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-25 07:03:46
    This page:

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