New EHRI Document Blog | Rescue and Parenting through Correspondence

Thursday, 5 November, 2020

“I give you my treasure. I beg you – you are also a mother – to save my child. God will repay you for everything, and I will too (…). My child will bring you luck, you will see. I beg you, yourself a mother, to have mercy on my child (…).”

Thus begins a desperate plea of a Jewish mother, Eda Kunstler, to a Catholic mother, Zofia Sendler. Eda searched for a way to save her infant daughter Anita from the Kraków ghetto in German-occupied Poland. The letter written in 1943 testifies to the desperation that Eda faced and illuminates the shreds of agency that she strove to exercise as a mother. More broadly, Eda’s note demonstrates the impossible choices that parents were forced to make in an effort to try to assure their children’s survival during the Holocaust.

This letter is part of a small collection of documents and photographs that Anita Epstein (nèe Kunstler) donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in 2001. The collection has since been digitized and made available on the Museum’s website.

This EHRI Document Blog post analyses the Anita Epstein papers from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and describes how the correspondence includes information on the organization of wartime rescue and reveals postwar relationships between rescuers and rescuees. The post offers a rare glimpse into rescue arrangements and into the ways in which parents grappled with separation from their children as well as the Jews’ efforts to rebuild their lives after the war, including the obstacles that Jews encountered.

The post is part of the EHRI Document Blog Series on Gender Studies and Holocaust History “If This Is A Woman”.

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Image: Anita while in hiding approx. 1943-1945. Notice the necklace with the cross to evoke the Catholic background of the child. Anita Epstein papers, USHMM 2001.321.1.