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Collections and Exhibitions News: The Triumphs and Struggles of Liberation
January 27 is International Holocaust
Remembrance Day—the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
In this month's newsletter, we highlight objects from the
Museum's Permanent Collection that speak to the complex emotions of
liberation as well as the struggles endured in the aftermath of the
Frania Bratt Blum's Liberation Dress Gift
of Frania Bratt Blum. 7.87.
What goes through a young woman’s mind when she sews her own dress?
For 27-year-old Frania Bratt in early May 1945, in a satellite of
Dachau Concentration Camp, near Munich, Germany, we may guess: a
sense of freedom and a renewal of her life as a human being, a Jew,
and a woman.
On April 29, the camp was liberated by the Seventh Army of the United
States Armed Forces. Like many of the 67,000 people packed into
Dachau’s barracks by hastily retreating Nazis in the last days of the
war, Frania Bratt had survived several other camps. For more than
sixteen months, she had worn only the standard inmate uniform, but
slowly, as her sense of individuality was beginning to return, she
thought about sewing a dress. She had before her bolts of cheerful
blue-and-white-checked fabric that had been provided by the U.S.
Ohrdruf: The 1945 Diary of US Soldier John Beckett
John W. Beckett was one of the American soldiers who liberated Ohrdruf,
a subcamp of Buchenwald on April 4, 1945. There, he was confronted with
evidence of once unimaginable crimes, the horror of which he grapples
with in his war diaries.
Rita and Manfred Grunbaum not only endured multiple concentration
camps and horrific transportations, but, like many other survivors, a
deadly disease as well. With liberation came a new set of struggles.
Anita (née Meyer) Budding kept a diary recounting the passing days
while she was in hiding in southern Holland. Her May 5, 1945 entry
starts with the words Hoep, Hoep, Hoera—Dutch for hip, hip, hooray! This
is the day the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation.
In January of 1945, Rywka, Juda, and Israel Putersznyt, together with
21 others, discovered a large hidden closet within a closet in the Lodz
Ghetto. After three days without moving, they heard a family friend,
who had been hiding in another bunker, shout, “Putersznyt, we are free.
The Russians are here!”
A first-of-its-kind exhibition on the
20th-century artist and Holocaust survivor, Boris Lurie:
Nothing To Do But To Try presents a portrait of
an artist reckoning with devastating trauma, haunting memories, and
an elusive, lifelong quest for freedom.
Question: What happens after I donate an object to the
Museum's Permanent Collection?
After an object is accepted for inclusion in the Museum’s Permanent
Collection—following thorough research and approval by an
interdisciplinary group of Collections Professionals—a lengthy
process ensues to ensure that the object is properly documented,
catalogued, condition checked, photographed, and housed.
Upon entering the Collection, objects are assigned a unique
identification number based on the year and order of acquisition,
which allows for their location to be tracked at all
times. They are then catalogued; basic information—object type,
title, date, maker, place made, materials, dimensions, description,
credit line, notes, and location—is recorded in both physical and
digital files. The objects are then condition reported, creating a
timestamp of their condition at the time of their inclusion into the
Collection. Deeds are then countersigned by the Vice President of
Collections and Exhibitions, and a copy is returned to the donor by
mail. We then digitize the donated material by capturing and editing
high resolution images of the objects. Objects are then stored in
acid free, archival boxes and often require the construction of
specialty permanent housing.
The process of acquiring objects into the Museum’s Permanent
Collection takes time, and the overall care and preservation of these
objects remains ongoing so that they may be preserved for generations