Gathering the Fragments
A National Campaign to Rescue Personal Items from the Holocaust Period
Unity Despite Everything
Devorah Ferstenberg donated a jewellery box and an album made by her husband Jacob Ferstenberg to Yad Vashem.
Jacob Ferstenberg was born in Radom, Poland. He made the jewellery box as a present for Devorah's birthday in November 1948 when they were interned in Cyprus. The box is decorated with engraved chalk panels. A scene from the camp is carved onto the lid – a fence, a watchtower, round tin shacks and tents. There are narrow panels on each of the four sides. Devorah's date of birth was carved onto the panel on the front of the box but only the letters 'XI', indicating the month of November, remain. On one side is a panel inscribed with the numbers 5709 (the year according to the Hebrew calendar) and on the other is the year 1948. The panel on the back is inscribed with the word "Cyprus". The underside of the box is made from a piece of wood taken from a margarine packet that they were given in the camp. The inside was padded and lined with red fabric and blue trimming, there is a metal clasp but its tab is missing. The album is small and wooden, decorated with a chalk panel engraved with a sailing boat. It doesn't seem as if the album was used and it is not known why Jacob made it.
Jacob and Devorah met after the war in Ichud Lamrot Hakol (Unity Despite Everything), a children's kibbutz run by the General Zionists in Leipheim, Germany. Devorah donated photographs from the hachshara (pioneer training) period in the kibbutz, most at the Firstbach farm in Erding, Germany where the group received agricultural training in preparation for their move to Eretz Israel.
Jacob Ferstenberg was born in 1926 in Radom, Poland. He had five siblings: Chana who was married to Zecharia Herszman, Avraham, Leon, Mendl and Stefa. Jacob was deported to the forced labor camp Skarzysko-Kamienna, and from there he was sent to the Blizyna camp. On the 31st of July 1944 he was sent to Auschwitz where he was assigned to cleaning the latrines. With the evacuation of the camp, Jacob and the rest of the prisoners were sent on a death march and he was liberated at Buchenwald. He is the only survivor of his family.
Devorah née Prochovnik was born in November 1929 in Lodz, Poland to Shmuel and Sara; she had two elder sisters Regina and Anka. Regina and their parents perished in the Lodz Ghetto. With the liquidation of the ghetto in 1944 Anka and Devorah were deported to Auschwitz; they were there for a short time and were not tattooed with numbers before they were transferred to the Hannover labor camp where they worked in a munitions factory. Anka did not survive Hannover.
Devorah was sent on a death march to Bergen Belsen and from there to Elsing by the Elbe River. From Elsing she was sent by train towards Berlin but the train was shelled in Sadin and the prisoners took advantage of the opportunity to escape. The escapees divided into groups and Devorah joined a group of Jews from Poland who made their way back to Poland. She reached Lodz but didn't find any relatives or anyone that she knew.
Following the recommendations of the local Jewish committee, Devorah joined the General Zionists' kibbutz. The kibbutz moved from Lodz to Czechoslovakia and from there to Austria. In 1945 it moved to Germany where it wandered between many locations including Bad Reichenhall, Feldafing, Firstbach and Leipheim where it seems to have stayed for a long time. Jacob joined the kibbutz in 1946 and the two fell in love. The kibbutz moved to Italy and from there set sail for Eretz Israel in 1947 on the illegal immigration ship Hatikvah (The Hope). The British commandeered the ship and transferred the passengers to 3 deportation ships that brought the immigrants to the British detention camps in Cyprus where Jacob and Devorah married that year. Jacob crafted various items from wood and the local chalk that he received from a friend who worked in supplies. The jewellery box and photo album were among the items that Jacob crafted, some of which he 'sold' or gave as presents.
Jacob and Devorah immigrated to Israel in 1949; they live in Givatayim and have one son, Amnon Sivan, three grandchildren and one great grandson.
Devorah contacted Yad Vashem through the Gathering the Fragments campaign in order to donate the objects that Jacob had made in the internment camp in Cyprus. In January 2011 representatives from Yad Vashem visited Devorah and Jacob Ferstenberg. During the visit, in addition to Jacob's works from Cyprus, Devorah donated sixty photographs of life in the Ichud Lamrot Hakol kibbutz before the kibbutz members immigrated to Israel.