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Shallow pewter bowl with etched Hebrew owned by a German Jewish prewar emigre

Object | Accession Number: 2012.456.2

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    Shallow pewter bowl with etched Hebrew owned by a German Jewish prewar emigre


    Brief Narrative
    Pewter bowl with etched Hebrew letters owned by Moritz Berk, who decided to leave Nazi Germany for the US in 1938. When Hitler came into power in January 1933, Moritz, his wife Berta, and their daughter Fraenze were living in Schwanfeld, where Morris's family had lived for generations. Under the Nazi government, Jews were persecuted and increasingly banned from areas of German society. Faced with rising anti-Semitism, Moritz, Berta, Fraenze, and Berta’s mother Jette, decided to immigrate to the United States. Berta’s brother, Max Lonnerstaedter, sponsored their 1938 emigration to New York. Moritz’s brother and two of Berta’s brothers also immigrated to the United States before the Holocaust. Their family members who remained in Germany perished in the Holocaust.
    emigration:  1938 October
    received: Schwanfeld (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Susan Friedland-Cristina
    bottom, engraved : [b] ב [m] מ
    bottom, stamped : [?]ENBACH / FEINBLOCK[?]NN
    bottom, stamped : F.I.A.ID[?]H / [?]NBLOCK[?]INN
    bottom, stamped : FENBACH / FEINBLOCKZINN [fine block pewter]
    Subject: Morris Berk
    Moritz Berk was born on April 9, 1891, in Schwanfeld, Germany, to Jewish parents, Adolf and Sophie (Sofie) Maier Berk. Adolf was born in approximately 1855 in Schwanfeld where his family had lived for generations. Sophie was born on March 7, 1863, in Sickershausen. Moritz had three siblings: Lina, born August 18, 1888; Paula, born July 17, 1894; and Heinrich, born November 3, 1895. Adolf died on February 27, 1915. Moritz served in the German Army in World War I. After the war, he became a merchant. He married Berta Lonnerstaedter. Berta was born on April 9, 1901, in Schwanfeld, to Julius and Jette Stern Lonnerstaedter. Jette was born on February 16, 1870, in Mechenried, Germany. Berta had three brothers: Siegfried, born in 1899, Paul, born in 1900, and Max, born in 1904.The Lonnerstaedter family lived in Mellrichstadt. Max immigrated to the United States in 1928. Moritz and Berta lived in Schwanfeld and had a daughter, Fraenze, in 1930.
    In June 1932, Moritz was expelled from the Frontkrieger-Verein (Front Warriors Association) because of the anti-Jewish policies of the Nazi party and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party. In January 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany and by summer had established a dictatorship in Germany. Anti-Jewish legislation was enacted almost immediately. In 1936, Siegfried and his wife and children immigrated to New York. In 1937, Paul, a math teacher, immigrated to New York, but felt he could not abandon his students so he returned to Germany. Heinrich Berk also immigrated to the United States in 1937. On August 17, 1938, Moritz, Berta, Franeze and Jette were issued their visas. On November 2, they boarded the SS Washington in Hamburg, arriving in New York on November 10.
    The family settled in New York and Americanized their names to Morris, Bertha, and Francise Berk and Yette Lonnerstaedter. Morris worked as a machinist. Morris corresponded with family members left in Germany, seeking assistance in getting affidavits. Their other immediate family members were not able to leave Germany. On May 19, 1942, Morris’s mother Sophie died in Frankfurt. On October 26, 1942, Berta’s brother Paul was deported to Riga, Latvia. He perished in the Holocaust. On June 16, 1943, Berta’s cousin Karl was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto, then sent, on October, 16, 1944, to Auschwitz Birkenau, where he was killed. Morris’s sisters, Lina and Paula, perished in the Holocaust. Morris, age 71, died in January 1963. Bertha, age 82, died in May 1983.

    Physical Details

    German Hebrew
    Household Utensils
    Object Type
    Pewter--Bowls (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Heavy, shallow, circular, gray colored pewter bowl with a smooth exterior and an extended rim with an incised line around the interior and top of the base. The surface is raised slightly in the well. There are 2 etched Hebrew letters near the rim on the exterior. Across the center are 3 worn, identical impressed circular touch marks with inward curving sides. The marks feature a human figure with large wings, in knee length garments, holding an upright sword in the right hand and a balance scale in the left. To the left of the figure’s feet is a small leaping stag. There is German text along the top and bottom. The plate is scratched with discoloration spots. Similar touch marks were used on high quality pewter and tin in Germany and areas of Switzerland since the 18th century. This style of bowl, with etched initials and marks likely dates to that era.
    overall: Height: 8.125 inches (20.638 cm) | Width: 8.125 inches (20.638 cm) | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm)
    overall : pewter

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The bowl was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Susan Friedland-Cristina, the granddaughter of Bertha and Morris Berk.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 20:14:04
    This page:

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