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The Artifacts Collection

Artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum

Rouge used by Rosa Sperling and her daughter Marila (Miriam), to make themselves look healthier in order to pass the selections in the camps

  • The remainder of a piece of rouge preserved in a celluloid scrap that enabled Rosa Sperling and her daughter Marila to pass the selections in the camps. They would smear a tiny amount of the rouge on their cheeks before each selection to give themselves a look of vitality
  • Rosa Sperling’s camp number from Auschwitz
  • Rosa Sperling after the war
  • Marila Sperling after the war
  • Henryk Sperling in 1918. Henryk was murdered in 1942

The Sperling family – Henryk and Roza, daughter Miriam and son Witold lived in Krakow, Poland. When war broke out and steps were taken to enclose the Jews in ghettos, the family moved to a small village in the Carpathian region, where they lived until the Germans invaded in the summer of 1942 and the deportations from this area began.

After Henryk was deported from there to a death camp, Roza and her two children returned in secret to the Krakow ghetto. The women found work in a German textile factory, but a short while later Witold perished due to the conditions in the ghetto. Roza and Miriam were moved to the Plaszów labor camp and in the fall of 1944 deported with the other workers to Auschwitz. During the entire length of their imprisonment – in Plaszów, Auschwitz and later in Ravensbrück – both mother and daughter kept a small piece of rouge with them which they used to give an impression of health and vitality during the selections. They hid the rouge between their fingers.

In January 1945, the two women were taken with the other prisoners on a death march to Ravensbrück and from there to other camps in Germany. The period between Auschwitz and their liberation was defined by terrible hunger, cold and continued suffering – worse than they had ever experienced before. Finally, they were liberated by the Red Army. After the war, Miriam married, and later immigrated to Israel with her husband, daughter and mother.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by the Association of Krakovians in Israel, Tel Aviv

Additional artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum