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The Artifacts Collection

Artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum

Last Words from a Mother and Sister

A small postcard that was smuggled out of the Kovno ghetto to the child Sonia CernyA small postcard that was smuggled out of the Kovno ghetto to the child Sonia Cerny
A letter that was smuggled out of the Kovno ghetto to the child Sonia CernyA letter that was smuggled out of the Kovno ghetto to the child Sonia Cerny
The Cerny family on holiday in the summer of 1936The Cerny family on holiday in the summer of 1936

A small postcard decorated with a dove, symbol of freedom, and inscribed with good wishes by Sonia Cerny’s mother Pola and her sister Nadia.  They wrote the postcard while in the Kovno ghetto, and smuggled it out to Sonia, who was being hidden by a Lithuanian woman living outside the ghetto.   Jews who worked in forced labor outside the ghetto were the inmates’ link with the outside world.  Lithuanian locals would offer to sell food to the Jewish laborers while the bribed German guard would turn a blind eye.  The housemaid from Sonia's hideout would also approach the laborers, and receive a loaf of bread from Sonia's mother who hid letters inside the loaf and smuggled it out of the ghetto.

The postcard was written in May 1944, and initialed by Pola and Nadia, who did not write their full names for fear of being caught.  They had hoped to be reunited with Sonia, but tragically, they perished in the final liquidation of the ghetto in July 1944.  Sonia (Cerny) Preminger gave the postcard to the Museum staff at the gathering of Kovno ghetto survivors in February 2001.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection, Gift of Sonia (Cerny) Preminger

Additional artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum