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Accession Number: NEKHC: 2013.39

Object: Bag

Physical Description:  Canvas bag with leather edging, strap, and buckles; Yellow and red paint on front; Paper and ink pasted onto front; Paper with black ink pasted inside lid. Complete.

Information: This medical kit bag was donated by Zahava Cohn. The bag had belonged to Zahava's mother, Rosy, who had been given it by doctors in Biberach Displaced Persons Camp. 


Further Information: 

This medical kit bag was donated by Zahava Cohn. Zahava was born in Palestine to Jewish parents Rosy and Sigmund in August 1935. Due to ill health Rosy needed a cooler climate and in 1937 the family left Palestine for Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The family were Jewish, and observed Jewish religious festivals.

After the Nazi invasion of May 1940, life became more difficult for the family as they faced increasing danger from the Nazi regime and persecution of Jewish people. After Zahava’s brother was born in 1941, their parents decided the family would have a better chance of survival if he was passed to the care of the Dutch Resistance and hidden. Although the family secured passage out of Europe, the travel documents came too late. In May 1943, the family were arrested at home and taken to Westerbork Transit Camp where they were held for nine months. As Zahava had been born in Palestine, she had the protection of being born under a British Mandate. This was important because it also provided some protection to Zahava’s parents.

The family were scheduled to be deported to Auschwitz, however as a British protected child the family were spared at that time in case there was to be a prisoner exchange for German citizens detained by the British. The family were sent on to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp and placed in the ‘Star Camp’ where they were held for possible prisoner exchange. In January 1945 the family were among selected exchange prisoners transferred to Biberach Internment Camp, near the German border with Switzerland.

The camp was liberated by French troops on 23 April 1945. After liberation the Internment Camp became a Displaced Persons Camp. Thousands of people across Europe were not able to return to what had been their home, and obtaining travel documents or securing a place to go after the Holocaust, and the Second World War, was extremely difficult.

The medical kit bag had belonged to Rosy, who had been given it by doctors in Biberach Displaced Persons Camp. Doctors had given them the bag, complete with contents such as medication and bandages, as Zahava and her father were extremely unwell after their experiences during the Holocaust.  

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