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Silver napkin ring with an engraved wreath design and name brought by a German Jewish prewar emigre

Object | Accession Number: 2013.430.9

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Silver napkin ring engraved with her name saved by 18 year old Ruth Karlsruher, when she escaped Nazi Germany with her mother Jetta in August 1940. Many items from Jella's trousseau, such as the damask napkin, 2013.430.5, and perhaps this item, were sent in crates to Holland and then later to New York. When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, Ruth was living in Mannheim with her parents, Jella and Nathan. Following Nathan’s death in October 1933, Jella and Ruth moved in with Jella’s daughter from her first marriage, Irene Schweizer, and her husband Friedrich and son Hans. Ruth experienced anti-Semitism constantly. During Kristallnacht on November 10, 1938, Friedrich was sent to Dachau and released in January 1939. Friedrich, Irene, and Hans fled to England in summer 1939. From September to November 1939, Ruth performed forced agricultural labor. In March 1940, Irene left for the US. She soon provided the money and documentation needed for Jella and Ruth to emigrate. They received visas in May but had to change their travel plans several times because of the war. In August, Jella and Ruth left Berlin and traveled through the Soviet Union, Manchuria, Korea, and Japan, until arriving in Chicago in September 1940.
    Date
    emigration:  1940 August
    Geography
    use: Mannheim (Germany)
    manufacture: Heilbronn (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Audrey Eisenmann and Geoffrey Eisenmann
    Markings
    back, top edge, stamped : (crescent) (crown) 800 (butterfly?) [Bruckmann & Söhne maker's and silver standard]
    Contributor
    Subject: Ruth R. Eisenmann
    Manufacturer: Bruckmann and Söhne
    Biography
    Ruth Regina Karlsruher was born July 30, 1922, in Mannheim, Germany, to Nathan and Jella Furth Karlsruher. She had an older half sister, Irene Regensburger, born on July 18, 1905, from her mother’s first marriage to Leonhard Regensburger. Nathan was born on April 5, 1874, in Ittlingen. Jella was born on January 25, 1879, in Eppingen. Nathan worked with his brother Karl as a grain trader in Mannheim. Ruth attended public school, and received a Jewish education. They lived a comfortable life and employed a maid and dressmakers. They regularly attended services at their synagogue. Ruth did not have non-Jewish friends.

    In January 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany and anti-Jewish laws were enacted almost immediately. As anti-Semitism increased, the family began attempting to leave Germany. Jella had three siblings living in the United States and they applied for a visa waiting number to the US, but had a high number. In 1933, Ruth had difficulty being accepted to public high school because there was a quota for Jews. Only Jewish children whose fathers had served in World War I (1914-1918) were initially accepted and Nathan had not served in the army. On October 21, 1933, Nathan died of congestive heart failure. Ruth and Jella moved in with Ruth’s sister, Irene, her husband Friedrich Schweizer, and their newborn son, Hans, who was profoundly deaf. In 1935, Ruth was at a public pool after school when Nazis with crowbars came in and demanded that all Jews leave. In 1936, the anti-Semitism in her school became too difficult for Ruth and she switched to a Jewish school for her final year of high school. In 1937, Ruth went to a Jewish boarding school in Wolfratshuasen, a small town outside of Munich. She learned English and French and how to cook, clean and sew, to prepare for immigration to Palestine or the US. After a year, Ruth returned to her mother in Mannheim, took private lessons in English, French and Hebrew, and attended a compulsory school twice a week.

    On November 10, 1938, during Kristallnacht, two Nazis entered the apartment and took Ruth’s brother-in-law, Friedrich. A few hours later, more Nazis came in with crowbars, smashed their furniture and dishes, and destroyed pictures on the wall. They heard that Friedrich had been taken to Dachau concentration camp. In January 1939, he was released. Irene made arrangements for him to leave Germany and he went to England in June 1939. Irene went to Berlin to get their son Hans, from the school for the deaf where he was enrolled. On July 18, Irene and Hans went to England on a Kindertransport. Ruth also had a job offer in Manchester, England, but the outbreak of war in September 1939 prevented her from going. One of Ruth’s paternal uncles lived in Palestine and tried to help them emigrate, but they were not approved. From September to the middle of November, Ruth was drafted to forced agricultural labor and taken to Bucholz, a small village near Berlin, to pick potatoes. She worked for twelve to thirteen hours a day and spent the nights in small theater, sleeping on the straw covered floor. In March 1940, Irene, Friedrich, and Hans reached the US and settled in Chicago. Irene worked to get Jella and Ruth out of Germany. She contacted relatives and friends to get them the affidavits and 2000 dollars they needed. On May 10, 1940, Ruth and Jella were issued US visas. They had already booked ship tickets to the US from Amsterdam, but could not go because Germany invaded the Netherlands. They tried to go through Italy and Lisbon but were unsuccessful. Their visas expired on September 10 so they were desperate to find an alternate way out of Germany. Ruth heard that it was possible to get to the US through the Soviet Union. They needed three day transit visas for the Soviet Union, Japan, and Korea. Ruth traveled alone to Berlin and went to the Soviet consulate every day until she was got their visas. She went to Hamburg to get their Japanese visas. Ruth and Jella were forced to take in Jewish refugees expelled from other areas of Germany and shared their apartment with two other families.

    In August, Jella and Ruth got their transit visas and booked their trip through a travel agent. On August 12, they flew from Berlin to Moscow. They were in Moscow for three days, where they stayed in a nice hotel and did sightseeing activities. They went by train across Siberia to Manchuria. Before they were allowed to leave the Soviet Union, they were inspected by Soviet officials and Ruth’s travel diary was confiscated. They feared they would be detained but the diary was returned and they were allowed to continue. They took a train to Busan, Korea, then a boat to Japan. They sailed from Yokohama to Seattle, Washington. They went to Omaha to visit Jella’s brother Carl, then continued to Chicago, arriving in September 1940. They moved in with Irene and her family. In October 1940, Ruth met Albrecht (Al) Eisenmann, who was born on April 18, 1920, in Noerdlingen, to Otto and Ida Kaufmann Eisenmann. Al had emigrated to the United States in April 1938, after being arrested and jailed by the Germans for telling a political joke. His father died in 1938 and his mother was deported to Piaski in 1942 and perished. On June 14, 1942, Ruth married Al. They settled in Hyde Park and had two children. Al owned a leatherworks company. Ruth became a travel agent. Jella, age 81, died on January 11, 1961. Frederick, age 71, died on December 23, 1962. Al, age 62, died in August 1982. Ruth remarried Herbert Rosenfeld in 1994. The couple had been friends for forty years. Irene, age 101, died on June 22, 2007. Henry, age 75, died on May 15, 2009. Ruth, age 87, died on August 25, 2009.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Household Utensils
    Category
    Tableware
    Object Type
    Napkin rings (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Small, shiny silver napkin ring with an embossed leaf and berry wreath with the name Ruth engraved inside. The wreath hangs from a large ribbon bow that intersects with a band of leaves and berries embossed around the top edge. Two lines are etched around the bottom edge. Maker’s and silver marks are engraved on the top edge. The interior is smooth and gold colored.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm) | Diameter: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm)
    Materials
    overall : silver
    Inscription
    front, center, engraved : Ruth

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The napkin ring was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Audrey Eisenmann and Geoffrey Eisenmann, the children of Ruth Karlsruher Eisenmann.
    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:
    2022-11-10 11:51:32
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn84329

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