Black suitcase with leather trim used by a German Jewish Kindertransport refugee

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Suitcase used by 14 year old Bertl Rosenfelt when she and two younger sisters, Edith, 13, and Ruth, 9, left Nazi Germany in March 1939 on a Kindertransport to Great Britain. After Hitler assumed power in Germany in 1933, Jews were subjected to increasingly punitive restrictions. Bertl's extended family tried to get visas for the US, but were unsuccessful because of the strict US quotas. Bertl, Edith, and Ruth were sent to Aachen to live with Friederika in 1937 to attend the Jewish school. During the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, they passed the burning synagogue and were told their school was closed. A maternal aunt, Hannah (Johanna) had lived in London since 1933. She found people willing to take in the sisters and Friederika arranged for their departure on the Kindertransport. They left in March 1939 and 2 year old Esther was sent in June. Bertl's parents Adolf and Katty were murdered in August 1942 in Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1947, Bertl fulfilled her mother's wishes by arranging for all the sisters to go to America, where her brother was already living.

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  • Title: Black suitcase with leather trim used by a German Jewish Kindertransport refugee
  • Provenance: The suitcase was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2000 by Bertl Rosenfelt Esenstad.
  • Subject Keywords: Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Personal narratives, Jewish. Jewish children in the Holocaust--Germany--Biography. Jewish refugees--Great Britain--Biography. Jews--Rescue--Germany--Biography. Kindertransports (Rescue operations)--Great Britain--Personal narratives, German. World War, 1939-1945--Refugees--Great Britain--Personal narratives, German.
  • Type: Containers
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Rectangular, fiberboard suitcase covered with shiny, coated black cloth with a white cloth covered wooden frame and 3 stop lid hinges. The lid and base rims are reinforced with a black painted metal strip. The case has light brown leather edging stitched with offwhite thread and leather corner reinforcements. A stiff leather handle, with red strings tied around it, is attached by D-rings to leather tabs on the base front. There are 2 tarnished, silver colored hasps riveted on the lid front and 2 lock plates with a hasp slot and sliding keyhole release riveted on the base front. There are 4 metal foot studs on the back and on the underside corners. The interior is lined with discolored white cloth and has 4 offwhite cloth straps, 1 with a metal bracket, attached to the base frame and 2 joined, gathered, cloth pockets attached across the lid. On the left corner is a metal lid stay. Paper labels and remnants are adhered to the exterior. The suitcase is heavily scratched, dented, and stained.


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