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Silver napkin ring with an embossed floral design and engraved name saved by a German Jewish prewar emigre

Object | Accession Number: 2013.430.10

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    Brief Narrative
    Silver napkin ring engraved with her husband's name saved by Jella Furth Karlsruher when she escaped Nazi Germany with her daughter Ruth, 18, 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, Jella, Nathan, and Ruth lived in Mannheim. Following Nathan’s death in October 1933, Jella and Ruth moved in with Jella’s daughter from her first marriage, Irene Schweizer, 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 then provided the necessary money and documentation 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.
    emigration:  1940 August
    use: Mannheim (Germany)
    manufacture: Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Audrey Eisenmann and Geoffrey Eisenmann
    back, below top edge, engraved : (crescent) (crown) 80(0) (wheel) (star) / 7 [Martin Mayer GmbH maker’s and silver mark]
    Subject: Jella Karlsruher
    Manufacturer: Martin Mayer GmbH
    Jella Furth was born on January 25, 1879, in Eppingen, Germany, to Max and Elise Furth. She was the youngest of seven children, five girls and two boys. On September 30, 1903, Jella married Leonhard Regensburger from Eppingen. Leonhard was born on July 12, 1858, in Eppingen. He had been a silk and textiles merchant in France for 20 years, and had become a French citizen. He returned to Saxony because he wished to have a German wife. He became a partner in a drapery factory in Plauen. On July 18, 1905, they had a daughter, Irene. Leonhard retired in 1912 and the family returned to Eppingen. On April 11, 1914, Leonhard, 55, died of cancer. On December 5, 1919, Jella married Nathan Karlsruher, who was born on April 5, 1875, in Ittlingen, to Gabriel and Regina Karlsruher. He had fourteen siblings. Nathan had been Jella's first love but, as the eldest brother, had to wait until all his sisters were married before he married himself. Nathan was a grain trader and worked with his brother Karl. The family moved to Mannheim for Nathan's business. They had a daughter, Ruth, on July 30, 1922. They lived a comfortable life and employed a maid and dressmakers. They regularly attended services at their conservative synagogue. Irene graduated school and began working in a bank. On May 27, 1927, Irene married Friedrich Schweizer, (1891-1962), a bank manager and World War I veteran.
    In January 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany and anti-Jewish laws were passed almost immediately. Nathan died of a pulmonary illness on October 21, 1933. Jella and Ruth moved in with Irene, Friedrich, and their son Hans, who had been born profoundly deaf on September 19, 1933. 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. On November 10, 1938, during Kristallnacht, two Nazis entered the apartment and took Friedrich. A few hours later, more Nazis came in with crowbars, smashed their furniture and dishes, and destroyed pictures on the wall. They did not harm the apartment building which was Swiss owned and the next day, SS guards were posted outside. On November 12, 1938, Jella’s sister Sophie killed herself by jumping off a roof, fearful of the violent antisemitism she witnessed during Kristallnacht. After a few days, the family heard that Friedrich had been taken to Dachau concentration camp. In January 1939, he was released. Jella had quickly put sandwiches in his pockets when he was arrested and they had helped him survive because he was not given food for many days. In June 1939, Friedrich went to England. Irene went to Berlin to get their son Hans from the school for the deaf he attended there. On July 18, Irene and Hans went to England on a Kindertransport. Irene was the only mother allowed on the transport and paid for her ticket.
    Ruth had a job offer in Manchester, England, but the outbreak of war in September 1939 prevented her from going. One of Jella’s brothers-in-law lived in Palestine and tried to help them emigrate, but they were not approved. In September, Ruth was drafted for forced agricultural labor and did not return until the middle of November. In March 1940, Irene, Friedrich and Hans reached the US and settled in Chicago. Friedrich and Hans Americanized their names to Frederick and Henry. Irene contacted every relative and friend she could to get Jella and Ruth the affidavits and 2,000 dollars they needed to leave Germany. On May 10, 1940, Ruth and Jella were issued US visas. They had booked ship tickets to the US from Amsterdam, and sent some crates of belongings ahead, but could not go because Germany invaded the Netherlands. They tried to leave via 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. Jella and Ruth were forced to take in Jewish refugees expelled from other areas of Germany and shared their apartment with two 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. On June 13, 1942, Ruth married Albrecht (Al) Eisenmann (1920-1982), who had escaped Germany in 1938. Jella became a naturalized American citizen on February 19, 1946. She was active in the Jewish community. Ruth and Al had two children. Jella, age 81, died on January 11, 1961.

    Physical Details

    Household Utensils
    Object Type
    Napkin rings (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Silver napkin ring with an intricate, molded scrollwork vine and dot design forming an oval frame with the name Nathan engraved in the center. Floral bouquets extend along the sides: on the left is a leafy stem with several pansy like flowers; on the right are 3 leafy stems with bell shaped lilies of the valley. Maker and silver marks are engraved on the back. The top edge is bent and it is worn with scratches.
    overall: Height: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm) | Diameter: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm)
    overall : silver
    front, center, engraved : Nathan

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The napkin ring was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Audrey Eisenmann and Geoffrey Eisenmann, the grandchildren of Jella Furth Karlsruher.
    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:
    2022-08-12 06:42:29
    This page:

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