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Silk scarf with a handpainted clown and an inscription created by a Jewish Polish refugee in Bergen-Belsen DP camp

Object | Accession Number: 2012.443.3

Silk scarf with a design painted by Poldek (Leopold) Schein for his future wife Pepi on November 14, 1946, when he was living in Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp. The scarf features a jack-in-the-box jester with a book and best wishes from Poldek and his best friend Romek. On December 25, 1947, Pepi and Poldek had a double wedding with Romek and Pepi's adopted sister Madelaine. Romek died of a hernia in the DP camp in 1949. Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939. Nineteen year old Poldek lived in Krakow with his parents Abraham and Mania, three brothers, Joseph, Herman, and Jacob, and two sisters Esther and Helena. Poldek, his father and his two older brothers left to enlist in the Polish Army. They traveled to Lwow, but soon after they arrived, the city surrendered to the Soviet Army. In 1940, Polish refugees were told they must become Soviet citizens. The Scheins refused and were sent to Kalchug, a forestry labor camp in Siberia. Abraham became ill and died that summer. In 1941, the three brothers, and other Polish refugees, were released from the camp and permitted to settle elsewhere in the Soviet Union. They went to Uzbekistan where they lived until the end of the war. Germany surrendered in May and that summer they left for Poland. They found almost no family members in Krakow. They decided to leave for Germany, and settled in the DP camp in Bergen-Belsen because they were told that it had a large Jewish community. Poldek worked painting houses, and eventually became head of graphics for the Jewish community. He married Pepi Levi, a survivor from Łódź, in December 1947. Joseph and Herman emigrated to Canada. A paternal uncle, Jacob Schein, in New York helped Poldek and Pepi get US immigration visas and they arrived in 1949. It was presumed that Leopold's mother, sisters, and youngest brother had been deported to Auschwitz and killed. In 1990, Leopold traveled to Poland and discovered that they had been shot by a guard on the train platform while waiting to be deported.

creation:  1946 November 14
creation: DP-Camp Bergen-Belsen; Belsen (Bergen, Celle, Germany)
Dress Accessories
Object Type
Scarves (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Leopold Schein
Record last modified: 2022-10-04 08:17:53
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