Group portrait of instructors in the Ferramonti camp school.
1942 August 20
- Photo Designation
TRANSIT CAMPS/INTERNMENT CAMPS -- Italy -- Ferramonti
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Akiva Schwarz
Group portrait of instructors in the Ferramonti camp school.
Ella Schwarz, the donor's wife, is seated third from the right in the first row. Pictured in the first row on the far left is the artist Michael Fingesten, who was interned in Ferramonti from November 13, 1941 to October 8, 1943. During this time, he taught art classes to the children.
- Event History
- The Pentcho was an 85 year-old paddlewheel steamer hired by the Revisionist Zionist movement to bring Jewish refugees to Palestine. It departed from Bratislava on May 18, 1940 with some 400 Slovakian Jews and proceeded down the Danube. A few weeks later it picked up over 100 Austrian Jews at the seaport of Sulina, bringing the total to some 510 Jewish refugees. The Pentcho left Sulina on September 21 and after a stormy crossing on the Black Sea, it passed the Dardanelles and reached the Greek port of Mytilene (Metelin) on the island of Lesbos. After the ship was ordered to leave without refueling, the passengers wired the Committee for the Relief of Refugees (CRR) in Athens stating their predicament. They headed for the port of Piraeus, where the CRR arranged for a delivery of food and fuel. The Pentcho left Piraeus on October 3 and four days later reached the port of Rhodes where they were reprovisioned by the Italian authorities but ordered to leave the following day. A few days later, on October 9, the ship's boiler exploded, and the ship broke in two off of the deserted island of Kamilonissi in Dodecanese territory, then under Italian control. The passengers and crew were able to get ashore and off-load their supplies before the ship finally sank. Five men took the ship's only lifeboat to look for rescue. Though they were caught in a storm and lost their bearings, they were eventually rescued by a British destroyer and taken to Alexandria. When the CRR learned about the wreckage of the Pentcho, it alerted Greeks in Herakleion who then endeavored to have supplies delivered to the stranded refugees on Kamilonissi. On October 18 and 19, Italian authorities picked up the refugees on two sorties and brought them to the main island of Rhodes where they stayed for the next year and a quarter in a hastily constructed camp in the soccer stadium of Rhodes. Then, in January 1942, the refugees were transferred to the Ferramonti internment camp in southern Italy. They were kept there until the Allies captured Italy. Most of the Pentcho's passengers arrived in Palestine in June 1944, but twenty-four of them were among the 1000 refugees brought to the US in 1944 aboard the SS Henry Gibbins and sheltered at Fort Ontario. The Pentcho was the last illegal immigrant ship sponsored by the Revisionist Zionist movement. Afterwards illegal immigration to Palestine was organized by the Mossad, the Organization for Illegal Immigration.
- Akiva Karl Schwarz is the son of Erich Josef Schwarz and Erna Fleissig. He was born on August 21, 1921 in Vienna, Austria where his father was a veterinarian. Karl had a younger brother Heinrich (born in 1924) and an older sister Henrietta (born in 1919). After graduating from middle school Karl became an apprentice in a metal factory and simultaneously attended a vocational school for two and a half years. In 1936 he joined "Betar", a Zionist revisionist movement. On March 28, 1938, soon after the Anschluss, Karl left Austria and moved to Bratislava, where he found a job in a machine shop. In the evenings Karl served as an instructor in a Betar Hachshara to prepare others for immigration to Palestine. In December 1939 Karl met Elvira Ella Huppert from Bielsko Biala, who later became his wife. In May 1940 they boarded the SS "Pentcho" on the Danube River in Bratislava. Though only 400 Jews were supposed to board the Pentcho, at the last moment 101 additional Jews, who were just released from Dachau concentration camp joined them. In October 1940 a boiler on the ship exploded and the passengers of the Pentcho found themselves shipwrecked on the Italian Dodecanese Islands, between Crete and Asia Minor. Somehow they managed to land on an island in the Aegean Sea. There the shipwrecked Jews prepared a flag with a sign SOS painted with shoe polish on a sheet. About ten days later, an Italian warship picked them up and transferred them to a camp on Rhodes where the living conditions were very harsh. The Italian authorities refused to take responsibility for the refugees and ordered the local Jewish community to provide food for them. In February/March 1942 the 500 Jews were transferred to Ferramonti, the largest of the Italian concentration camps that were established in 1938 when Mussolini introduced anti-Jewish laws. Nonetheless this was an improvement for the "Pentcho"-passengers since they had a 7 lire allowance and 200gr of bread ration each day. On October 1942, Karl and Ella were married by a rabbi in the Ferramonti camp; their son Peter was born two years later. In April 1945 the young family left Ferramonti and settled in Haifa. Karl Akiva started to work for the Electrical Company and Ella took care of her child. In 1949 Peter died from polio at the age of five. Karl and Ella's daughter Esther was born in 1950. Ella's parents and two of her brothers and their families were killed during the war. Her brother Hugo, who traveled to Palestine in 1936 to compete in the Maccabbi Sports Games, stayed there with his wife. Ella's oldest sister Gisela, her husband Leo Kulka and their three children obtained false identity papers and posed as Aryans throughout the war. Karl's father, Erich Josef Schwarz, who was a Czechoslovak citizen, left Austria soon after the Anschluss and settled in Prague. In January 1942, upon receiving a deportation order, he obtained a false identity and later joined the underground partisan movement. In December 1944 Erich Schwarz was arrested by the Gestapo, but he managed to escape in January 1945 and was able to participate in the liberation of Prague. After the war he married Elsa Schultz, who helped him hide during the war years. He died of a heart attack in 1949. Karl's mother and his younger brother Heinrich left Vienna in 1938 and settled in Prague. On June 1942 they were deported to Theresienstadt and from there to Maly Trostenets, near Minsk, where they were murdered. Karl's sister, Henrietta and her husband were also deported to Theresienstadt and from there to the Auschwitz death camp where they were killed.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Karl Akiva SchwarzSource Record ID: Collections: 2004.273.1
Record last modified: 2017-07-05 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1163380