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Gold painted metal box with engraved heart and initials made by a Jewish Polish slave labor camp inmate

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Small gold painted metal box made by 22 year old Shmuel Spiegel to carry soap when he was a prisoner at Gleiwitz I slave labor camp from September1944 - January 1945. He engraved it with RG and SS, for Regina Gutman and Shmuel Spiegel, with a heart pierced by an arrow. Shmuel and Regina met in Pionki labor camp circa 1942. They were separated when the inmates were transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau in fall 1944 and had promised to meet after the war. In April 1941, Regina, 15, escaped the Radom ghetto in German occupied Poland for Pionki. She worked in a munitions factory, where she met Shmuel. He left Kozienice ghetto in September 1942 to work in Pionki labor camp. In fall 1944, the inmates were transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau where men and women were separated upon arrival. Regina was transferred to Bomlitz slave labor camp, an underground munitions factory, then briefly to Bergen Belsen, and then Elsnig slave labor camp. In April 1945, the camp was evacuated by trains, which were bombed. Regina was wounded, but escaped and hid in the forest until liberated on April 20 by Soviet troops. Shmuel was sent to Gleiwitz I slave labor camp. In January 1945, as Allied troops neared, the inmates were sent on a death march to Blechhammer where Shmuel escaped. Both returned to their home towns in Poland, searching for family, and found that nearly all their relatives had perished in Treblinka killing center. Shmuel learned that Regina was in Radom and sent a horse and buggy for her. As they learned of returning Jews being killed in pogroms, they decided to leave Poland. They reached Foehrenwald displaced persons camp in Germany where they married on May 21, 1946. With the assistance of Regina's maternal uncle, Samuel Kreps, in the US, they sailed for America in October 1947.

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Details

  • Title: Gold painted metal box with engraved heart and initials made by a Jewish Polish slave labor camp inmate
  • Provenance: The box was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1997 by Regina and Samuel Spiegel.
  • Subject Keywords: Concentration camp inmates--Poland--Biography. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives. Holocaust survivors--Washington (D.C.)--Biography. Jewish refugees--Germany--Biography. Slave labor--Poland--Biography. Women concentration camp inmates--Germany--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor--Germany--Personal narratives.
  • Type: Containers
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: a. Handcrafted, small, rectangular, silver colored metal box base with an iridescent, gold painted exterior. It has rounded corners and soldered seams. b. Handcrafted, small, rectangular, shallow, silver colored metal box lid painted gold. The top has a tooled design with the initials RG and SS in the upper left and lower right corners and a heart pierced by an arrow in the center. The corners are rounded and the lid inserts inside the base to close.

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