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Small white bag with a button saved from the coat of a young Jewish girl deported to Auschwitz

Object | Accession Number: 1993.27.5

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    Small white bag with a button saved from the coat of a young Jewish girl deported to Auschwitz

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    Brief Narrative
    Small, sealed, cloth pouch containing a button from the coat of 10 year Fryda Hirshfeld who was deported from Łódź Ghetto and murdered in Auschwitz in 1942. The button was returned to her father, Julian, after the war in late 1940s in Paris, by Mr. Mechtiger, a prewar family neighbor from Łódź, Poland. Julian sewed the button in the pouch and attached the string. Łódź was occupied by German troops on September 8, 1939. Fryda, her father, and her mother, Hela, were forced into the sealed Jewish ghetto in February 1940. Fryda was deported and murdered in Auschwitz in 1942 and Hela met the same fate in 1943. Julian was in Łódź until 1942/43 and was transported to several concentration camps because his skills as a textile engineer were valuable to the Germans. He was interned at Birkenau, Auschwitz, Goleshau, and Buchenwald concentration camps. He was liberated at Buchenwald by US troops on April 11, 1945, and sent to a Red Cross refugee center in France. He encountered Franka Rosenblum, whom he had known before and during the war. Franka, from Zawiercie, was a forced laborer and resistance member. In August 1943, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and tattooed with the number 56362. She worked in a hospital, then a Krupp ammunition factory. In January 1945, she was on death marches to Malkov, Ravensbrück, and Leipzig, where she escaped and hid. The area was soon liberated and she was relocated to Paris. A few months after their September 26, 1946 marriage, Franka and their infant daughter emigrated to the United States. Julian followed in 1949.
    use:  1940-1942
    received:  1945 June
    received: Paris (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Frances Hirshfeld, in memory of her husband Dr. Julian Hirshfeld, and their family members who perished during the Holocaust
    Subject: Fryda Hirshfeld
    Subject: Julian J. Hirshfeld
    Subject: Frances Hirshfeld
    Fryda Hirshfeld was born in Łódź, Poland, on March 21, 1932. She was the only child of a Jewish couple, Julian, born January 20, 1907, in Łódź, and Hela Magazyne Hirshfeld, born on May 31, 1908, in Warsaw. Julian was a textile engineer with a doctorate in chemistry from Strasbourg University. The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Łódź was renamed Litzmannstadt and annexed as part of the Warthegau region. In February 1940, the Germans isolated all the Jews in a small closed ghetto where Fryda and her family were forced to move. In January 1942, the German authorities began large scale deportations of Jews from Łódź to Chelmno and other killing centers. Fryda, 10, was transported and killed in Auschwitz in 1942.
    Julian J. Hirshfeld was born in Łódź, Poland, on January 20, 1907, to a Jewish couple, Moshe and Fajga (Fannie) Levinsohn. He was a textile engineer, and received his doctorate in chemistry from Strasbourg University in France, before the war. He married Hela Magazyne, who was born in Warsaw, on May 31, 1908, to Leon and Fela. Julian and Hela had one daughter, Fryda, born in Łódź on March 12, 1932. Not long after the Germans occupied Poland in September 1939, all the Jews in Łódź were forced into a small, closed ghetto. In January 1942, the Germans began large scale deportations of the ghetto residents to killing centers. Julian's wife and 10 year old daughter were deported from Łódź Ghetto and killed in Auschwitz: Fryda in 1942; Hela in 1943. Julian was imprisoned at Birkenau, Auschwitz, Goleshau, and Buchenwald concentration camps. His left arm was tattooed with the number 157668 at Auschwitz. The Germans used his skills as a chemist at various textile plants and he believes this is why he survived. Julian was liberated from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, and remembers being found and helped by an American GI. He was relocated to a Red Cross camp in Paris, France, run from the Hotel Lutetia. He encountered Franka Rosenblum, whom he knew before and during the war. Franka had been sent from Zawiercie ghetto to Birkenau, Auschwitz, Malhof (Malkov), Ravensbrueck, and liberated after escaping a death march near Leipzig in April 1945. The couple married in Belgium on September 21, 1946. At the end of 1946, Franka and their infant daughter left for America. Julian followed in 1949 and they settled in Decatur, Alabama. Julian, 74, passed away in 1981.
    Franka (Frances) Mariam Rosenblum was born in Opatow Kieliecki, (Wojewowldztwo Swietokryzskie) Poland, on July 26, 1918, to Meyer and Gabriella (Malka) Wajman Rosenblum. Her father died before she was born. In 1924, she and her mother moved to Sosnowiec. Her mother had nine siblings and mother and daughter next went to live with the Sojka's, an uncle's family in Zawiercie. When Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, the Sojka's fled east to Russian territory, but it was winter and conditions were very harsh. Franka smuggled herself back to the German occupied area and found that nothing remained: homes and property had been confiscated. She was unable to get back into the Russian sector, but her family returned to the Zawiercie ghetto. Franka worked as forced labor in the steel mill, and became involved in the resistance.

    On August 26, 1943, Franka was deported by the German authorities to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Upon arrival, she was stripped naked, had her head shaved, was given dirty, lice infested rags to wear, and tattooed with the number 56362. If she asked a question, she was slapped until her teeth shook. They slept six to a bunk in a stable with three layers of bunks. They worked all the time, some just carrying heavy rocks back and forth. They got ersatz coffee and a small piece of bread in the morning and evening, and dirty, watery soup during the day. If you washed your clothes, you had to sleep in them wet. Trains arrived all the time from across Europe, unloaded by men called zondercommandos, who were given the choice of helping to unload the trains or going to the ovens alive. She learned about the Warsaw Uprising from other camp inmates who had been sent to the camp from there. Franka worked first in a hospital zone crowded with people dying from starvation and disease, then in a Krupp ammunition factory. She was moved from Auschwitz to Birkenau where she lived near the place where medical experiments were conducted. One day, a Belgian girl was caught trying to escape. All the inmates were called to see her execution by hanging; someone slipped her a razor blade and she cut her wrists to escape the gallows. Beginning in January 1945, Franka was taken on a series of death marches to Malkov, Ravensbrück, and Leipzig; near Dresden, around April, she escaped and the area was soon liberated.

    She learned that her mother, all nine of her mother’s siblings, and her grandparents had perished. Franka was relocated to France where she met Julian Hirshfeld, a textile engineer and survivor of Auschwitz and many other concentration camps whose wfie and child had been murdered in a German camp. They had known each other before the war in the ghetto. They married in Brussels, Belgium, on September 26, 1946. In October, with the help of an uncle in Jacksonville, Florida, Franka emigrated to the United States with their infant daughter. Julian arrived in the US in 1949. They settled in Decatur, Alabama, and had another daughter and a son. Both she and her husband spoke about their experiences to many groups, because they believed that "Whatever is not enough." Julian, 72, died in 1981. Frances, 80, passed away in 1999.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Very small, square, white cloth pouch with rounded corners stitched closed with white thread. It contains a small, circular, metal button. A red thread drawstring passes through a channel at the top and forms a knotted, 4 inch looped handle. The pouch is discolored and stained.
    overall: Height: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm) | Width: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    overall : cloth, metal, yarn

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The small pouch and button were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993 by Frances Hirshfeld, the widow of Julian Hirshfeld.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-15 13:50:23
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