Autoknips Model I automatic timer for a camera used by a Jewish German émigré and US soldier

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Autoknips Model 1 automatic timer for a camera owned by Rudolph Sichel, a Jewish refugee from Frankfurt, Germany, who served in the US Army in Europe from July 1944 to June 1946. In May 1936, unable to return to Germany from England because of anti-Jewish regulations, Sichel went to the United States. His parents, Ernst and Frieda, joined him in 1940. In April 1943, Sichel enlisted in the army and was sent to Camp Ritchie for military intelligence training in interrogation techniques. In July 1944, Sichel, now Chief Interrogator, Interrogation of Prisoners of War Team 13, landed on Utah Beach in France, where his unit was attached to the 104th Infantry, the Timberwolf Division. As the unit advanced through France, Belgium, and into Germany, Sichel interrogated those captured. On April 11, 1945, the unit liberated Dora-Mittelbau/Nordhausen concentration camp and Rudolph witnessed the horrific conditions. A skilled photographer, he took snapshots of the camp and other events of his military tour. Following Germany’s surrender in May, 2nd Lt. Sichel was attached to the 9th Army. He interrogated prisoners of war and civilian witnesses, and participated in fact finding missions to document and prepare evidence for war crimes trials. In June 1946, 1st Lt. Sichel returned to the US. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.

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  • Title: Autoknips Model I automatic timer for a camera used by a Jewish German émigré and US soldier
  • Provenance: The automatic timer was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Howard Sichel and Linda Strohmenger, the children of Rudolph Daniel Sichel.
  • Subject Keywords: German American soldiers--United States--Biography. Jewish refugees--United States--Biography. Jewish soldiers--United States--Biography. Soldiers--United States--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Liberation--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Military intelligence--United States--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American.
  • Type: Audiovisual and Photographic Materials
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Heavy, rectangular, silver colored metal automatic timer with 2 movable levers: bolted to the top center is a lever with 2 knobs and a red painted circular bottom. Engraved on the surface below the lever is a curved, fletched arrow to indicate the direction it moves. Screwed to the left side is an arrow shaped lever with a knob. On the top end is a concave indent. Suspended over this is a C hook attached to a metal bar inserted into the body of the timer. To set the timer, the red circled front lever is turned to activate the inner mechanism and extend the C hook. To start the timer, the arrow side lever is pushed back and the mechanism incrementally retracts the C hook.


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