Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research

Login

Register

Help

Skip to main content

Black wooden ball returned after 50 years to the cousin of a Jewish youth killed during the Holocaust

Object | Accession Number: 2013.319.3

Search this record's additional resources, such as finding aids, documents, or transcripts.

No results match this search term.
Check spelling and try again.

results are loading

0 results found for “keyward

    Black wooden ball returned after 50 years to the cousin of a Jewish youth killed during the Holocaust
    Loading

    Please select from the following options:

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Black wooden ball that originally belonged to 16 year old Gustav Steiner. He entrusted it to his non-Jewish friend and neighbor, Emil Varecka, in July 1942 prior to his deportation from Prostejov, Czechoslovakia, to Ghetto Theresienstadt. The ball was recovered by Gustav's second cousin, Maud Michal Stecklmacher Beer, when she visited Prostejov in 1990. She met Emil, who offered her the toy that he had kept since 1942. Prostejov was annexed and occupied by Nazi Germany in March 1939. On July 2, 1942, Gustav and his father, Josef, along with Josef's brother Max and his wife Steffi, and Max's daughter Käthe Stecklmacher, her husband Fritz, and their two daughters, 13 year old Maud and 8 year old Karmela, were deported to Terezin. On July 28, Gustav and Josef were sent to Baranowicze, Poland (Baranovichy, Belarus) where they were murdered upon arrival. Max died in Theresienstadt on September 14. Fritz committed suicide there in May 1943. Steffi was deported and murdered in Auschwitz in October 1944. The camp was liberated on May 8, 1945. Käthe, Maud, and Karmela soon returned to Prostejov. The three immigrated to Israel in March 1949.
    Date
    received:  1942 July
    recovered:  1990
    Geography
    received: Prostejov (Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Maud Michal Stecklmacher Beer
    Contributor
    Subject: Gustav Steiner
    Subject: Maud Michal Beer
    Biography
    Gustav Steiner was born on December 29, 1925, in Prostejov, Moravia, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) to Josef and Mela Sborowitz Steiner. Mela died in 1932 when Gustav was seven years old. Josef was born in Prossnitz in 1884 to Jacob and Charlotte Husserl Steiner (1845-1916.) Josef had four siblings, Max, born 1972, Gisela, (1873-1892), Regina, (1874-1930), and Edmund, (1878-1942?). Jacob had purchased a mansion near the castle in Prostejov and set up a custom leather goods business in the basement. Josef worked in the business with his brother Max. Both families lived above the store: Max and his wife Stephanie (Steffi), maiden name also Steiner, lived in the first floor apartment and Josef and Gustav lived on the second floor. Max and his wife Steffi had one daughter, Käthe, born on March 26, 1908. Käthe married Fritz Stecklmacher in 1928 and they had two daughters, Maud, born on April 7, 1929, and Karmela, born on March 1, 1934. Fritz owned a wholesale business in Prostejov that supplied accessories like buttons, buckles, and thread to local garment factories. The families were very close and shared many Sunday outings, Maud frequently came to visit her grandmother and, as she and Gustav were close in age, they spent many hours playing and talking together. They were not especially religious, attending temple only on Jewish High Holidays. But they were ardent Zionists: Josef, Max, and Fritz belonged to Bnai Brith, Steffi and Käthe belonged to the Zionist women’s organization WIZO, and the children belonged to a Zionist youth organization, Tchelet-Lavan (Blue-White), and Maccabi sports club. They were affluent, assimilated German speakers.

    In September 1938, Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia and on March 15, 1939, occupied Bohemia and Moravia where Prostejov was located. The occupation brought an increasing series of anti-Jewish repressions. Jews were not allowed to use public facilities, such as movies and parks, and in 1940, Jewish children could no longer attend public schools. In spring 1941, the Steiner and Stecklmacher and other Jewish businesses were confiscated. Many Jewish residents were evicted from their homes because they were coveted by Germans and valuable personal possessions had to be turned over. Gustav’s cousin Käthe’s family was forced to move to the top floor of a small house already occupied by two other families. Gustav introduced his second cousin Maud to 24 year old Hermann Tandler, who, with his mother and aunt, was a refugee from the Sudetenland, who would become her first love. In September, all Jews were required to wear yellow Star of David badges on their clothing to identify them as Jews. In 1942, the men had to work in labor camps during the week.

    Transports to the Theresienstadt ghetto began in May 1942. On July 2, 1942, the Stecklmacher and Steiner families were sent on the third transport AAm via Olomouc, arriving in Terezin two days later. Less than a month later, on July 28, Gustav and Josef were deported to Baranowicze, Poland (Baranovichy, Belarus) where they were murdered by German troops upon arrival.
    Maud Klotilde Stecklmacher was born on April 7, 1929, in Prostejov, Moravia, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), to Friedrich (Fritz ) Bedrich and Käthe Steiner Stecklmacher. Fritz was born on December 7, 1898, in Prossnitz to Jakub and Klotilde Stecklmacher. Fritz owned a clothing store and a wholesale business founded by his father that supplied accessories like buttons, buckles, and thread to local garment factories. Frtiz had four brothers, Emil, who died in childhood, Bruno, killed in WWI, Arthur, an architect in Prague, and Otto, who worked in the business in Prostejov. Käthe was born on March 26, 1908, the only daughter of Max and Steffi Steiner, owners of a wholsesale leathers goods and custom shoe business in Prostejov. Max’s brother, Josef, also worked in the family business. Josef was a widower, with a son, Gustav, born on December 29, 1925. Josef's and Max lived above the store with thier families. Fritz and Käthe married on March 25, 1928. Maud’s sister, Karmela, was born March 1, 1934. The families were very close, but not especially religious, attending temple only on Jewish High Holidays. But they were ardent Zionists: Fritz and Max belonged to Bnai Brith, Käthe and her mother belonged to the Zionist women’s organization WIZO and the children belonged to a Zionist youth organization, Tchelet-Lavan (Blue-White), and Maccabi sports club. They were affluent, assimilated German speakers. The sisters had live-in nannies and attended a public school with few other Jewish students.

    In September 1938, Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia and on March 15, 1939, occupied Bohemia and Moravia where Prostejov was located. The occupation brought an increasing series of anti-Jewish repressions. Jews were not allowed to use public facilities, such as movies and parks, and in 1940, Jewish children could no longer attend public schools. The Jewish community offered classes in different homes, but by September 1941, Maud and Karmela were tutored at home. In spring 1941, the Steiner and Stecklmacher and other Jewish businesses were confiscated. Many Jewish residents were evicted from their homes because they were coveted by Germans and valuable personal possessions had to be turned over. Maud’s family was forced to move to the top floor of a small house already occupied by two other families. Among the other residents was 24 year old Hermann Tandler, who, with his mother and aunt, was a refugee from the Sudetenland. Maud had been introduced to him by her cousin Gustav. She and Hermann developed a close relationship which Maud’s father disapproved of because of Maud’s youth and because Hermann was not a Zionist. In September, all Jews were required to wear yellow Star of David badges on their clothing. Maud’s family received a large piece of cloth with printed stars. Käthe cut them out, sewed them to another piece of cloth, and attached snaps to the stars and their clothes to make them last longer.

    In 1942, the men had to work in labor camps during the week. In May, transports to the Theresienstadt ghetto began. On July 2, 1942, the Stecklmacher and Steiner families were sent on the third transport AAm via Olomouc, arriving in Terezin two days later. Maud was assigned prisoner number AAm693. Maud, her mother, and sister were placed in Q802 block, her father in the Sudeten barracks, and her maternal grandparents in the barracks for the elderly. Maud found Hermann and their relationship continued and deepened; her family no longer tried to prevent it. Fritz was assigned to work in the cemetery and Käthe distributed mattresses. On September 17, 1942, Maud’s grandfather, Max Steiner, died, and her grandmother Steffi moved in with them. There were daily deportations from the camp to unknown destinations in Poland, feared by all the residents. Maud saw many friends and relatives get sent away, including her adored cousin Gustav and his father Josef. When Karmela contracted scarlet fever, she was placed in the quarantine infirmary and this protected the rest of her family from deportation temporarily. Hermann’s aunt, Regina Lagodzinsky, was deported on August 25, 1942. In October, his mother, Dora Tandler, received an order for deportation and Hermann would not let her go alone. He gave Maud an address in Berlin where they could meet after the war. After Hermann’s deportation, Maud agreed to be transferred to the girls’ house L410, where she lived with 23 other 13-year old girls. Her father Fritz worked for the ghetto administration reporting on barracks conditions and organized cultural programs to promote Zionist activities and the teaching of Hebrew. Learning was forbidden, but they received secret lessons in Czech history and science, and Maud could take books from a camp library. The girls got hot showers once every three months. They were hungry all the time and had to make a quarter loaf ration of bread last three days. Maud worked in a vegetable garden and sometimes stole some produce for her mother. In spring 1943, Fritz fell ill with pneumonia. He told Maud that the relatives who were sent away to Poland were not alive anymore. He asked her to keep it a secret and not tell her mother, and she never did. He recovered and resumed his nightly visits with his family. On May 31, 1943, Maud was told that her father, age 45, had died and his body cremated. It was not until late 1944 that Maud was told that he had committed suicide. About two years later, Karmela was part of a work crew of children and old people sent to throw the urns and ashes of the dead into the Eger River. On October 12, 1944, Maud’s grandmother, age 62, was deported to Auschwitz. Her mother Käthe was forced to work in a Glimmer factory, splitting the mineral mica which was used by the German military as an electrical insulator. Mica was essential to the war effort and the female prisoners in the factory were exempt from deportation, along with their immediate family. However, under the German rules, fourteen year olds were treated as adults and in October, Maud received a deportation order. Her mother and sister volunteered to go with her. The three were ready to board the train when a friend, Elinka, who worked for the ghetto self government, noticed them and told them to follow her. They did and then hid until the train left. Käthe asked the factory supervisor to reclaim her and Karmela and Maud was reclaimed by Kursovsky, the German manager of the agriculture department. In April 1945, death march survivors from others camps started to arrive in Theresienstadt. Among the arrivals were some who had been deported from Terezin to Auschwitz five months earlier, now unrecognizable.

    On May 8, 1945, the Soviet Red Army reached the camp. After a short recuperation, the sisters, their mother, and an aunt, Lotte, returned to Prostejov. Many of their belongings were returned by the neighbors with whom the Stecklmacher and Steiner families had left them for safekeeping before their deportation. Maud returned to school in September 1945 and became active in the Gordonia-Young Maccabi Zionist movement. After the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948, the Stecklmacher women decided to immigrate. They arrived in Tel Aviv in March 1949. Maud never gave up hope of meeting Hermann again. It was not until 1974 that she learned that he had been deported to Treblinka and murdered on arrival.

    In spring 1950, Maud met some new arrivals from Czechoslovakia, Oskar Shimon Beer, his brother Pavel, and a friend. She married Shimon in January 1951 in Haifa. Shimon, born on February 27, 1925, in Brno, had left in December 1939 for Palestine, and served in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army during the war. His parents, Julius and Hildegarde, were deported to Theresienstadt, then to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered. Pavel survived both camps. Maud and Shimon settled on a farm and had three children. Karmela married Jeno Weiss, (later Ben-Dom), also from Czechoslovakia, and they had two children. Käthe died in 1993, age 85. Shimon died in 2002, age 75. Maud later wrote a memoir of her experiences, “What Fire Can’t Burn.”

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Toys
    Category
    Wooden toys
    Object Type
    Wooden toys (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Small, black painted, varnished wooden ball.
    Dimensions
    overall: | Diameter: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm)
    Materials
    overall : wood, paint, varnish

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The black wooden ball was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Maud Michal Beer, the cousin of Gustav Steiner.
    Funding Note
    The acquisition of this artifact was made possible by the Crown Family.
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-17 11:48:04
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn77079

    Download & Licensing

    In-Person Research

    Contact Us