When the HMLC opened in 1995, archival holdings had already been accumulated and recorded. Survivors, veterans and other community members have been donating artifacts, documents and other memorabilia, creating a repository of memories connected with the Holocaust/WWII years. Some artifacts have been integrated into the Museum’s permanent exhibit, others have been used as the focus of temporary exhibits as well as historical research and publications. Professionally inventoried, preserved and made accessible, the contents of the HMLC archives are handled with the honor and respect these artifacts, documents and material culture deserve.
Through our monthly Artifact Spotlight, we want to share some rarely seen objects from our archival holdings. For more information about the HMLC archives, or if you are considering a donation, please contact Diane Everman at 314-442-3722 or email DEverman@JFedSTL.org.
Selections from the HMLC Archives
German School Book:
While it looks like the 1930s version of a “Dick & Jane” book, this German school book for early readers had pages inserted to reflect the country’s new political reality. Mandated by the German government, the book now contains images of Hitler and the S.A. marching “with silent solid steps.” [Marianne Collin Goldstein Collection]
School Slate & Satchel:
This well-used school slate and satchel date from the mid-1930s and were used by a young German Jewish child in first and second grade. Children used slates to do their daily school work, and the satchel, the book bag of its time, allowed children to carry books, slate, pencils, etc. to and from school. [Marianne Collin Goldstein Collection]
Signal Corps Camera:
The U.S. military realized the important role cameras could play during WWII. Photographs, both still and motion picture, played a vital role for the military – and the public – during the war. They assisted with strategic planning, recognizing equipment deficiencies, providing legal evidence of war crimes and serving as a public relations tool. [General Collection]
Shoes have become a poignant symbol of the Holocaust, reminding us of the millions of individuals who once wore them. This tattered shoe, worn by a boy who was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau, memorializes the 1.5 million children killed during the Holocaust. [Yaakov (Jackie) Handeli Collection]
Created for soldiers of the SA (Sturmabteilung) or the “Brown Shirts,” daggers of this type were produced throughout Nazi Germany. The dagger’s sleek design embodied power and symbolized the supposed vigor of the SA soldier. The Reich manufactured more than five million blades between 1933 and 1944. “Alles für Deutschland” or “All for Germany” was etched on each blade and the hilt of every dagger bore initials indicating the geographic state of production. The hilt of this dagger bears the letters (He), indicating Hessen as the state of manufacture. [Hans Jacoby Collection]
Nationalsozialstische Frauenschaft Pin:
Just as the men and boys had their responsibilities, women and girls also had a role to play in forwarding the goals of the Nazi Party. The purpose of the Nationalsozialstische Frauenschaft, or Women’s League, was to spread ideas about motherhood, marriage, family, domestic affairs, use of German products, self-sufficiency and being companions (not equals) to their husbands. Membership was mandatory for women age 18 to 30. Pins like this showed the rank within the organization and the geographical identity of the wearer. This example dates from 1934-1938. [General Collection]
A souvenir of the 1936 Olympics, this bell is a re-creation of the actual bronze Olympic bell that hung in the bell tower at the western end of the Reichssportfeld. These bells were produced by KPM, the Royal Porcelain Maker, and show a depiction of the Brandenburg Gate and an eagle holding the Olympic rings. The motto “I call the youth of the world,” and “11 Olympic Games” appears between two swastikas. [General Collection]
The Reich rewarded German women with a Mother’s Cross of Honor annually on the second Sunday in May (Mother’s Day). Mothers were awarded the cross if they were ethnic Germans and “deemed worthy” by producing at least four children for the Reich. Crosses came in three levels depending on the number of children a mother bore: gold for eight or more, silver for six or seven and bronze for four or five children. The awards came in two sizes, a large one with a neck ribbon for grand occasions and a miniature that could be worn every day. Women wearing such emblems received preferential treatment and public services, everything from having front row seats at an event and moving to the front of lines to the best choices of products and foodstuffs. [Rufus Denton Collection; Unnerstall Collection]