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Prewar studio portrait of the Halpern family.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 32676

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    Prewar studio portrait of the Halpern family.
    Prewar studio portrait of the Halpern family.

Pictured from left to right are Pnina, Leah, Malka, Meir, Miriam and Yitzchok Halpern.


    Prewar studio portrait of the Halpern family.

    Pictured from left to right are Pnina, Leah, Malka, Meir, Miriam and Yitzchok Halpern.
    Circa 1936 - 1940
    Mukachevo, [Ukraine; Transcarpathia] Czechoslovakia
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Schaja & Pnina Klein

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Schaja & Pnina Klein

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Pnina Klein (born Pnina Halpern) is the daughter of Yitzchok Isaac and Malka (Berkowitz) Halpern. She was born on January 14, 1928 in Mukacevo, where her father worked as a shochet, mohel and baal koreh [a ritual slaughterer, performer of circumcisions and Torah reader]. Pnina had eight older siblings and one younger one: Aharon Menahem, Yehudit, Shaindel, Berel, Tzvi Yosef, Frieda, Leah, Meir Alexander and Miriam. In the interwar period Aharon Menahem moved to Holland, while Yehudit and Shaindel immigrated to Palestine. The rest were living in Mukacevo when the war broke out. In 1942 Berel was sent to forced labor in a coal mine in Yugoslavia, where he perished. In April 1944, on the first day of Passover, the rest of the family was forced into the Mukacevo ghetto. Four weeks later all but Tzvi Yosef were deported to Auschwitz. Tzvi Yosef evaded the round-up by hiding in the woods. Pnina's parents and younger sister, Miriam, were killed upon arrival in Auschwitz. Soon after, Frieda perished as well. Pnina and Leah managed to stay together sorting confiscated property in one of the warehouses in the camp. In January 1945 they were sent on a death march to Ravensbrück. From there, they were taken to Neustadt, where they worked digging shelters for the Germans. When the sisters were liberated by the Soviets on May 2, they soon realized they were not to be released. Instead they were taken with a group of 125 women to a work camp in the Russian interior. In December, when a Soviet officer paid a visit to the camp commandant, who was his girlfriend, the inmates overheard him using a Yiddish term and begged him in Yiddish to let them go home. Shortly thereafter they were released. The train ride back to Mukacevo took another eight weeks. Finding it under Soviet rule, Pnina and Leah remained only a single night before moving westward with the help of the Bricha. Soon after reaching Czechoslovakia the sisters learned that their brother, Tzvi Yosef had survived. The three siblings were reunited in the town of Usti Nad-Laben, where they were soon joined by another brother, Meir Alexander. Early in 1946 Meir brought his sisters to the Bad Gastein displaced persons camp in Austria. There, Pnina, Leah and Meir joined a Mizrachi kibbutz hachshara [religious Zionist collective] and made plans to go to Palestine. Towards the end of 1946 they left Bad Gastein for Belgium, where they stayed for six months in Chateau de Rue, before proceeding on to Marseilles. In April 1947 Pnina, Meir and Leah set sail for Palestine on board the illegal immigration ship, Theodor Herzl. Denied entry into Palestine by the British, the Halperns were sent along with the rest of the passengers to detention camps in Cyprus, where they remained for several months before being allowed to settle in Palestine. Pnina later married Schaja Klein, also from Mukacevo, whom she met while living in Bad Gastein.
    Record last modified:
    2010-11-08 00:00:00
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