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Black silk taffeta bodice with handmade lace brought to the US by a Jewish family fleeing German occupied Poland

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Black silk taffeta bodice with handmade floral lace and embroidered appliques detached from a ball gown that Nadzieja Klein took with her when she, her husband, Jerzy, 3 year old daughter, Joanna, and her aunt, Elizawieta Palcew, escaped Warsaw, Poland, after living under German occupation since September 1939. Jerzy had applied for US visas in 1936 following Hitler’s remilitarization of the Rhineland, but was unsuccessful because of restrictive US entry quotas. Jerzy acquired false travel papers for roundtrip travel to Peru via Italy. The family travelled by train to Trieste where they obtained transit permits through Yugoslavia and Greece to Turkey. Up to this point, they had been accompanied by Nadzieja’s brother, wife, and child. But in Istanbul, Nadzieja’s family obtained US visas, valid for 3 months; her brother’s family had not applied previously and continued onto Palestine. Jerzy Klein's family and Elizawieta Palcew were evacuated by the British by train to Baghdad, and then Basra, in Iraq. From there, they sailed to Karachi and Bombay (Mumbai), India, where, in January 1941, they boarded an American cruise liner, the USS President Harrison, and arrived in New York on February 17.

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Details

  • Title: Black silk taffeta bodice with handmade lace brought to the US by a Jewish family fleeing German occupied Poland
  • Provenance: The bodice was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 by Joan Kent Finkelstein, the daughter of George and Nadine Kent.
  • Subject Keywords: Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Warsaw--Personal narratives. Jewish children in the Holocaust--Poland--Warsaw--Biography. Jewish families--Poland--Warsaw. Jewish refugees--United States. World War, 1939-1945--Refugees--United States.
  • Type: Clothing and Dress
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Black silk taffeta ball gown bodice with a square decorated netting overlay and handmade floral lace applique. The high neck has 9 fabric covered shank buttons, button loops, and a sweet-heart neckline, with an overlay of lace and sheer netting with embroidered black square appliques on the upper chest. The short puffed cap sleeves are made of netting with lace on the top and fabric on the underarm. The bodice ends in a V in the front and has a black plastic zipper on the left side and 2 chest darts. The bottom hem is unfinished where it was removed from the black silk ball gown.

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