Belt for a kittel [ceremonial robe] saved by a Czech Jewish refugee

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Long, narrow belt for a kittel, a ceremonial robe worn by a Jewish male, used by Norbert Meissner, who was president of the synagogue in Trest, Czechoslovakia, before and during the Holocaust. He and his wife, Lotte, and son, Leo, were deported to Theresienstadt in 1943. A year later, they were sent to Auschwitz death camp where they perished. The belt was preserved by his son, Frank. Frank, age 16, left Czechoslovakia in October 1939 because of the increasing Nazi persecution of Jews as Czechoslovakia was dismembered by Nazi Germany and its allies. With the encouragement of his family, he left for Denmark with members of Youth Aliyah, a organization that helped people to emigrate to Palestine. In 1943, the Germans began to deport all Jews from Denmark. Frank was warned that the Gestapo was looking for him and he was smuggled on a fishing boat to Sweden. He had been receiving weekly letters from his family, even after their deportation to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942; the letters stopped in 1943. After completing his education, Franz left for Great Britain where he joined the Czech army in exile. In the fall of 1944, Franz learned that his family had been sent to Auschwitz death camp. After the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia, searching for his family, but he found no survivors.

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  • Title: Belt for a kittel [ceremonial robe] saved by a Czech Jewish refugee
  • Provenance: The kittel belt was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 by Margit Meissner, the widow of Frank Meissner.
  • Subject Keywords: Concentration camp inmates--Czechoslovakia. Concentration camp inmates--Poland. Deportees--Czechoslovakia--Biography. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Czechoslovakia--Personal narratives. Jewish families--Czechoslovakia--Trest--Biography. Jewish refugees--Biography. Jews--Czechoslovakia--Trest--History--20th century. World War, 1939-1945--Refugees--Sweden.
  • Type: Dress Accessories
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Long, thin, rectangular, offwhite cloth that is widest at the ends and tapers toward the center seam. A lace applique is machine stitched onto the hem.


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