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Large plastic doll named Marlene brought by a young Jewish girl to the Theresienstadt ghetto

Object | Accession Number: 1992.4.1 a-f

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    Large plastic doll named Marlene brought by a young Jewish girl to the Theresienstadt ghetto

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    Brief Narrative
    Large, celluloid baby doll with several broken pieces that 7 year old Inge Auerbacher took with her when she and her parents, Berthold and Regina, were deported from Goppingen, Germany, in August 1942 to Theresienstadt ghetto/labor camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia. In the collection center, the SS took the doll's head off and searched it, then let her keep it. When the family arrived at the camp all of their belongings were taken away, except Inge's doll, named Marlene after the actress Marlene Dietrich. Inge promised her doll that she would protect it and the doll comforted Inge when she cried. The doll had been given to Inge around 1935 by her maternal grandmother Betty Lauchheimer, who was deported to Riga, Latvia, in 1941. At Theresienstadt, Inge and her parents shared a room with another couple and their daughter, Ruth Abraham. Ruth was a few months older than Inge and the girls had identical dolls. In September 1944, Berthold was told to report to SS headquarters for a selection for deportation. He had been told to go to the girl with the typewriter which he did. She put a red circle around their names and they were not put on the list. Ruth and her family were selected. Before Ruth left, she gave Inge doll clothes (see 1992.4.2) that her mother had made for her. Ruth and her parents were sent to Auschwitz and killed. Inge and her parents were liberated at the camp by Soviet troops on May 9, 1945. The camp was placed in quarantine because of a typhus epidemic. When it was lifted, they returned to Inge's grandmother's home in Jebenhausen. The people living in the house prepared them a room. They learned that her grandmother was probably shot in Riga and that nearly all of their relatives who had been unable to leave Europe were murdered in the camps. Inge and her parents left Germany after nine months for the US.
    received:  1936
    use:  1942-1945
    manufacture:  approximately 1935
    received: Kippenheim (Germany)
    use: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    manufacture: Neckarau (Mannheim, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Inge Auerbacher
    a. back of head, trademark, stamped : [Turtle within a diamond] / 42
    a. body, stamped : 46
    Subject: Inge Auerbacher
    Manufacturer: Rheinische Gummi und Celluloid Fabrik Co.: Schildkröt
    Inge Auerbacher was born on December 31, 1934, in Kippenheim, Germany, the only child of Berthold and Regina Lauchheimer Auerbacher, observant Orthodox Jews. Berthold was a successful textile merchant, from a family of cattle dealers who had lived in the town for over 200 years. His parents were Salomon and Karoline Weil Auerbacher and he had six siblings, two brothers and four sisters. Many extended family members still lived in the town. Berthold had received an Iron Cross for his service in World War I (1914-1918.) He had limited use of his right arm due to a shoulder wound. Regina was born in Jebenhausen on August 1, 1905, to Max and Betty Leiter Lauchheimer and had one brother Karl. Her father was a cattle dealer, and he and Inge's grandmother visited often. Berthold and Regina married on August 31, 1928. Inge was born in the same large house where her father was born, and the family was prosperous and had several servants.

    The Nazi dictatorship has assumed control of Germany in 1933, and increasingly harsh laws disenfranchised Jews. They were barred from many professions and Jewish businesses were often boycotted. On November 10, 1938, the second day of the Kristallnacht pogrom, all the windows of their home were broken by rocks thrown by vandals. Berthold and his father were arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp. Inge, her mother, and grandmother hid in a shed until it was quiet. Their synagogue was ransacked and the Torah and other sacred items were burned. The men were released a few weeks later, after Regina brought falsified tickets for Trinidad to the police to show proof of their intention to leave the country. Inge’s parents sold their house at a loss and moved to her grandparent’s home in Jebenhausen where they were the only remaining Jews. That May, Inge's grandfather died of a heart attack. Regina wrote to relatives in the United States for the affidavits of support needed to apply for visas, but their requests were not successful. Regina's brother left for the US and two of Berthold's sisters left for Brazil. In 1940, Inge began school but she had to travel three hours to Stuttgart. Her parents were assigned to forced labor in a corset factory. Her mother was a seamstress and her father a cutter. In September 1941, they had to wear yellow Star of David badges. Inge’s was taunted and jeered at during her long trips to school. In late 1941, Inge, her parents, and her grandmother received a deportation notice for Riga, Latvia. Regina wrote to Gestapo headquarters in Stuttgart requesting release from the notice because of his veteran’s status and it was granted. However, the reprieve did not extend to Regina’s mother and she was deported to Riga around December 1941. They were forced out of their home in Jebenhausen and sent to live in a room in a Jewish house in Goppingen. Inge’s school was closed.

    On August 22, 1942, six year old Inge and her parents were deported to Theresienstadt ghetto/labor camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia. Upon arrival, their suitcases and possessions were confiscated, except for the clothes they wore and Inge's doll, named Marlene. Inge was the only child on her transport. Many of the others were old and infirm, and, during the two mile march to the camp, if they fell or lagged behind, the guards beat them. They went into an underground room and were searched again, and then taken to a fortress, Drasnacasenk, and held in an airless, hot attic with a bare floor where they slept. People panicked; some jumped, and there were bodies under white sheets in the room. One day, a Czech woman, Mrs. Rinder, came to the attic to ask if there were any children. Inge was pushed forward and left with her. Mrs. Rinder gave Inge half her son’s mattress and, since she worked in the kitchen, Inge had more food to eat. In August, Inge fell ill with scarlet fever and was hospitalized for four months. She contracted one illness after another: multiple ear infections, worms, measles, jaundice. She was able to see her parents every day from the window, and, in December, she went to live with them in a barracks for disabled veterans. They shared a room with a family with a child just two months older than Inge. Ruth Abraham, born October 21, 1934, was from Berlin. Her mother was Jewish but her father was half-Jewish and Ruth had been raised as a Christian. Inge and Ruth had identical dolls and attended the underground classes. But the camp was changing. There were more and more transports bringing people in and taking others away to the east. Food was scarce - potatoes were like diamonds. Her parents celebrated Inge’s birthdays in small ways: once, a new outfit for her doll, sewn from rags, or a small potato cake. Her mother was assigned to the laundry, but later worked as a nurse. Her father did not have an official job and would search the camp for things such as coal dust. By the end of 1943, they had heard rumors about mass murders in the East and they lived in fear of being selected for transport. Around Yom Kippur, September 26, 1944, the disabled veterans were told to report to SS headquarters for selection. When her father came home, he said that he had been told to go the girl with the typewriter. He said she put a red circle around our name which meant they did not have to go. Ruth and her family were deported, as were Mrs. Rinder and her family. Before Ruth left, she gave Inge her doll’s clothing that her mother had made.

    On May 8, 1945, Inge and her parents were liberated by Soviet troops. The camp was quarantined because of a typhus epidemic. They were bused to a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, and then returned to Inge’s grandmother’s house in Jebenhausen. There were people living there, but they prepared them a room. They saw many of their furnishings in other local homes and offices. Thirteen family members had been murdered. Inge's grandmother was likely shot in Riga soon after her arrival. They relocated to Goeppingen and her father resumed his business. Inge, as the only known surviving Jewish child in the state of Wurrtemburg, was invited to UNRRA, the United Nations Refugee organization for her eleventh birthday. At their first opportunity, Inge and her parents left Germany for the United States, sailing on the Marine Perch in May 1946. They settled in New York. Inge became ill from the years of malnutrition and was hospitalized for two years. She later graduated from Hunter College with a chemistry degree. Inge has written and lectured widely about her experiences. Berthold, age 88, died in May 18, 1987. Regina, age 91, died on January 1, 1995.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Dolls (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    a. Large, hollow, celluloid female doll with molded facial features and moveable head, arms, and legs. The doll has a light complexion, molded platinum blonde hair with a rolled, upturned bottom curl, stationary blue glass eyes, blonde painted eyebrows, and pale pink painted lips. She has plump features: full cheeks, a large, round, protruding belly with a belly button, molded buttocks, and plump legs with a thigh crease and a slight bend at the knee. Each hand has individualized fingers, with fingernails, creased palms, and wrinkled knuckles. Her left arm bends forward at the elbow and her hand reaches out, with spread fingers. Her right am is straight with the palm turned inward. A turtle trademark and numbers are stamped on the back of the neck and a number is stamped on the body. This is for the Schildkröt doll making division of Rheinische Gummi und Celluloid Fabrik Co. The company created a popular series of named dolls in the early 20th century; this is the Inge model. The doll was examined while clothed. The doll's head broke soon after purchase c. 1935 and was replaced.
    The right leg is damaged and most of the sections below are for that leg.
    b. 4 very small celluloid pieces; hair pieces have been reattached.
    c. Pieces of the right leg: a large circular hip joint section with a center hole; a bracket with a center hole and 2 side pinholes; a small piece; 3-4 slivers.
    d. Partial right leg, 4 inches, extending from the top of the leg to the bottom of the bent knee. There are mold seams on the front and the back.
    e. 5 small celluloid pieces from the leg.
    f. Right foot with molded toes and nails, about 2.25 inches, broken from the leg below the ankle, but nearly complete, consisting of 3 pieces glued loosely together.
    overall: Height: 18.500 inches (46.99 cm) | Width: 11.000 inches (27.94 cm) | Depth: 4.500 inches (11.43 cm)
    a : celluloid, glass, rubber, cloth, adhesive
    b : celluloid
    c : celluloid
    d : celluloid
    e : celluloid
    f : celluloid

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
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    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The doll was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992 by Inge Auerbacher.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:22:08
    This page:

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