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Concentration camp uniform jacket worn by a Polish Jewish woman in multiple concentration camps

Object | Accession Number: 1989.162.1

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    Concentration camp uniform jacket worn by a Polish Jewish woman in multiple concentration camps

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    Brief Narrative
    Striped concentration camp uniform jacket, winter issue, provided to 31 year old Mania Ganzweich in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and worn from 1943 to 1945 in Birkenau, Ravensbrueck, Malchow, and Taucha concentration camps. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Mania and her second husband, Szlama Ganzweich, moved from Czestochowa to her hometown Sosnowiec, joining her daughter from her first marriage, Halina Merin, and her parents Pinchas and Chana Grandapel. Mania’s first husband Moniek Merin was head of the Judenrat. After Moniek was sent to Auschwitz in June 1943, Mania paid a Polish farmer to hide Halina. In August 1943, as the ghetto was liquidated, Mania joined Halina. They were captured around September 1943 and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Mania was assigned prisoner number 76335 and Halina 76336. On January 18, 1945, they were sent on forced marches to Ravensbrück, Malchow, and Taucha. After the guards abandoned Taucha in April 1945, Mania and Halina fled into the woods and were liberated by American troops. In Erding, Germany, they were reunited with two of Mania’s sisters. Mania’s parents and third sister were killed in Auschwitz and her brother and his family were killed in Treblinka. Mania and Halina immigrated to the United States in 1947.
    use:  approximately 1943 September-1945 April
    received: Birkenau (Concentration camp); Brzezinka (Wojewodztwo Malopolskie, Poland)
    use: Ravensbrück (Concentration camp); Ravensbrück (Germany)
    use: Malchow (Concentration camp); Malchow (Germany)
    use: Taucha (Concentration camp); Taucha (Saxony, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Mary Schubert, In memory of her brother Iziek Grandapel
    Subject: Mary Schubert
    Mania Grandapel was born on September 13, 1912, in Sosnowiec, Poland, to a Jewish couple, Pinchas and Chana Sztajer Grandapel. She had four siblings: Fela, born December 14, 1914; Bajla Mirla, born 1916; Henryka, born October 10, 1923; and Israel (Iziek). She married Moniek (Moshe) Merin, born in 1906. They owned a textile store. They had a daughter, Halina, on July 2, 1932. Around 1935, Mania and Moniek divorced. Mania ran the textile store until she married Szlama Ganzweich around 1937 and moved to Czestochowa. Szlama did not like children and mistreated Halina, so Mania sent her back to Sosnowiec to live with her parents.
    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Mania and Szlama returned to Sosnowiec and moved in with her family. The Germans formed a Judenrat (Jewish Council) on September 6. Mania’s first husband Moniek was chosen as its head. The Jewish ghetto was created between October 1942 and March 1943. Mania, Szlama, and Halina lived in an overcrowded apartment with Mania’s parents and younger sisters. Mania and Henryka worked as secretaries in the Judenrat office. Mania wanted Moniek to pay to send their daughter Halina into hiding in the Polish countryside, but he would not. In June 1943, Moniek was taken away by the Germans. With the help of her sister Bajla Mirla, Mania paid a farmer to keep Halina at his farm near the Czech border, where she lived under a false identity. On August 1, 1943, the Germans began emptying the ghetto. Mania joined Halina on the farm, but did not have a false identity and hid in a closet when other people were there. Many other people paid the farmer to stay at the farm during the day and flee across the border at night. The high amount of activity at the farm raised suspicions and they were reported. German police searched the farm. Mania hid in the bed under the covers. They discovered her Jewish identity papers in a closet and seached until she was discovered. Mania and Halina were jailed, and then sent to the prison in Sosnowiec, where Mania was questioned about the people who escaped to Czechoslovakia.
    In approximately September 1943, Mania and Halina were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by car with three or four other women. They spent the night in a washroom and went through a selection in the morning. Mania was selected to work and Halina was selected for the gas chambers, but Mania insisted on going with her daughter. They were put in the gas chamber but were released when Halina’s laughter drew the attention of Josef Mengele. After a conversation with Halina, he decided to let them live. Mania was assigned prisoner number 76335 and Halina prisoner number 76336. Mania’s head was shaved and they were given striped uniforms. They were assigned to a rat infested barracks and later moved to a barracks by the crematorium. Mania and Halina were assigned to sort the clothing of people taken to the gas chambers. They stole extra clothes to wear under their striped uniforms. Sometimes they found hidden food and Mania had Halina sneak the food to the men’s side of the camp, where they had relatives. On January 18, 1945, Birkenau was evacuated by a forced march. Mania and Halina wore extra clothes under their uniforms and Mania took a pitcher with her. They marched through bitter cold and people who could not keep up were shot. When the inmates walked through towns, they begged the townspeople for food or water, and sometimes people filled Mania’s pitcher with water or soup. The prisoners were eventually put on open train cars and taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp. There was little food and Mania sent Halina to the kitchens to get soup from a cousin who worked there. She had to walk through piles of bodies to get there. In February, they were sent to Malchow, where there were no sanitary facilities. In mid-March, they arrived in Taucha, where they were visited by the American Red Cross. In April, as the Allies closed in, the guards left and Mania and Halina escaped into the woods. When they came out, they found American troops, who told them to return to Taucha until the attack on Leipzig was over. Mania and Halina stayed at a German farm, until they were found by an American soldier.
    The solider took Halina to a hospital in Leipzig. Mania stayed in Taucha while Halina recovered for three months. They were relocated to Bayreuth and placed with a German family. In September 1946, they were sent to Erding and placed with another German family. They reunited with two of Mania’s sisters. Mania heard that her sister Henryka was in Poland, so she returned to Poland to get her. Henryka had survived imprisonment in Annaberg and Peterswaldau labor camps. Mania’s sister Fela, her husband Chil, and their son Richard had survived the war in the Soviet Union and found Mania in Germany. The rest of the family had perished. Mania’s first husband Moniek was killed in Auschwitz in June 1943. Mania’s father Pinchas died on the train to Auschwitz. Her sister Bajla Mirla and mother Chana were killed in Auschwitz. Her second husband Szlama was killed in Auschwitz in October 1943. Mania’s brother Israel, his wife Rena, and their son Romus were killed in Treblinka. Mania had a cousin in the United States who sponsored their emigration. On August 11, 1947, Mania and Halina sailed from Bremen on the SS Ernie Pyle, arriving in New York on August 20. Mania changed her name to Mary. They settled in New York. Mary worked as a seamstress and Halina went to high school. Mary married Leon Schubert, a survivor they met in Erding, and they bought a grocery store in Williamsburg. Mary and Leo had a daughter. Halina married in 1954. Mania's sister Henryka emigrated to the US and settled in California. Mary died ca. 1993.

    Physical Details

    Clothing and Dress
    Object Type
    Jackets (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Blue and gray, vertically striped, coarse cotton jacket, winter issue, hip-length, with long sleeves and a collar with flat ends. The front opening has 1 gray plastic button at the top right. The other 4 buttons are missing, with dark blue thread where they were attached. The left placket has 5 worn buttonholes, which are finished but fraying. There are vertical seams on the front and back, left and right of center, where the jacket was taken in. There is a gray, cloth hanging loop at the inside back of the neck. The hems and seams are machine finished, and the cuffs are frayed. The cloth is discolored and stained, with many holes and repairs.
    overall: Height: 28.750 inches (73.025 cm) | Width: 15.375 inches (39.053 cm)
    overall : cotton, plastic, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The concentration camp jacket was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by Mary Schubert.
    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:
    2022-07-28 18:21:08
    This page:

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