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Birthday letter with a color drawing of a mushroom garden by a hidden child

Object | Accession Number: 2009.204.52

Birthday story with a drawing of a couple picking mushrooms with a gnome created by 7 year old Ilona Goldman and her mother while in hiding in Lvov, Poland (L'viv, Ukraine) July 4, 1944. Ilona dictated this story to her mother as a gift for her father's birthday. Both of Ilona's parents suffered from the lack of cigarettes. The gnome, the man, and the house are all smoking and in the drawing Ilona wished her parents could have as many cigarettes as they wanted. The story tells of a boy and girl seeing a gnome's house near the forest, a witch on a broom, and the girl's worrying that she had no basket to gather mushrooms. Ilona lived in hiding in Poland from 1942-1944. In spring 1942, at age four, she was separated from her parents and placed with the Polish peasant family of Hania Seremet, who agreed to hide her for a fee. Drawings were the only way for the talkative child, not yet able to write, to communicate with her parents. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Ilona with her parents, Salomon and Gusta, fled Krakow for Soviet controlled Lvov. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the family was forced into the Jewish ghetto where Salomon worked as an accountant at a factory owned by the Wehrmacht. In spring 1942, fearing the liquidation of the ghetto, Salomon arranged a hiding place for them outside the ghetto with a former employee, Jozef Jozak. However, he would not hide Ilona because it would be too hard to conceal a lively young girl. Ilona was smuggled to the countryside and placed in hiding as a Christian child with the Seremets. After 6 months, Salomon could no longer pay for her care, so Ilona was brought back to live in their hiding place, without the knowledge of the Jozak family. Ilona had to stay most of this time locked in a closet with only her drawings and the medical textbooks left by a previous tenant. The family lived in hiding until the Soviet Army liberated the city in July 1944. When the war ended in May 1945, they returned to Krakow.

Artwork Title
Na Tatusiowe Urodziny
Alternate Title
For Daddy's Birthday
creation:  1944 July 04
creation: Lvov (Poland) (historic); L'viv (Ukraine)
Children's art
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Alona Frankel
Record last modified: 2022-05-13 13:32:43
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