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Accession Number: NEKHC:2009.192

Object: Wooden heart

Physical Description: Wooden heart, painted and varnished, pink ribbon tied on. 

Information:  This wooden heart was donated by Vera Schaufeld. The heart was given to Vera as a young child by her childhood 'boyfriend' when they were saying goodbye before Vera was sent to England, from what was then Czechoslovakia. 

Further Information

This wooden heart was donated by Vera Schaufeld. Vera was born in Prague in 1930, and in Klatovy, in what is now the Czech Republic. The heart had been given to Vera by her childhood ‘boyfriend’ who she had to say goodbye to when, to save her life, Vera was sent to England. The heart was brought over to England by Vera when she made this journey.

Vera’s parents were called Eugene and Elsa. Eugene was a lawyer, and a leader of the Jewish community in Klatovy. Elsa had been born in Westphalia and became a paediatric doctor, setting up a practice in Klatovy in 1936. Elsa and Eugene had met on a sight-seeing tour of Frankfurt, Germany. From that day Eugene made return visits to Germany to see Elsa, until the pair were married in 1929. Vera remembers a happy childhood, and that the family became more observant and kept a kosher house once her grandmother had come to live with them.

After Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, an atmosphere of fear developed and Vera’s father was arrested a few days later. Although he was released shortly after things had become more dangerous. The family faced increasing restrictions including having their radio taken away, and Vera remembers feeling very scared. School life became harder for Vera and she was made to feel different. In May 1939, Vera’s mother told her she was to travel to England without them, and that they hoped to join her as soon as possible.

Vera left in June 1939, by train as part of the rescue attempt organised by Sir Nicholas Winton. Vera travelled without her parents, when the train reached the border with Germany Vera’s Uncle Rudolf and Aunt Elsa boarded the train and stayed with Vera until Holland. That was the last time Vera would see them. When the train reached Holland, Vera’s parents had arranged for family friends to accompany her to the coast before Vera had to catch the ferry to England.

Once Vera had arrived in England she was very home sick, and after the outbreak of the Second World War lost contact with her parents. Because they were Jewish, Vera’s parents, grandmother, and many family members were murdered during the Holocaust. This meant despite wanting to go home it was not possible as Vera had no one to go back to. Vera was later able to visit some non-Jewish family friends in Holland who had kept treasured possessions given to them by Vera’s parents, to pass on to Vera.

After qualifying as a teacher, Vera went to Israel and worked on a kibbutz where she met her husband.  

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