Two dolls, dressed as a nurse and a Jewish policeman, apparently represent Alice Randt from Hannover and her friend in the Theresienstadt ghetto – Arnold Rubin, a Czech inmate who was sent from there to Auschwitz and murdered.
The circumstances under which the dolls were made are unknown. We know Alice’s fate from her memoirs, titled “Die Schleuse” (the name of the area in the ghetto where new inmates were brought). Her memoirs were donated to Yad Vashem in the 1950s along with the dolls and a number of other artifacts from Theresienstadt. In her memoirs there is no mention of who made the dolls.
Alice was born in 1895 to a Christian mother and a Jewish father in Grossburgwedel, a suburb of Hannover. She was raised as a Christian and worked as a nurse’s aid. She married Dr. Paul Randt, a Christian doctor who died of tuberculosis in 1935. In July 1942, Alice was deported to Theresienstadt with her elderly mother Emma Seeligman. After 10 months, her mother, a woman in her eighties, died in the ghetto.
In Theresienstadt, Alice worked as a nurse in the “Schleuse” under Arnold Rubin, from Brno, Czechoslovakia. Arnold, a World War I veteran, was assigned the task of group leader in the “Cavalier” barracks. He was also a policeman in the ghetto. His position and status enabled him to move freely inside the ghetto, even at night, as well as to have contact with individuals outside the ghetto. In this way he was able to smuggle items into and out of the ghetto. In time, despite the difficult conditions in the ghetto, a close relationship developed between Arnold and Alice.
In the autumn of 1944, all men between the ages of 14 and 55 were summoned for deportation, ostensibly to forced labor in Germany. Arnold was included in this transport. He left a suitcase with personal items with Alice, believing that he would be sent to forced labor and that on his return he would retrieve the items. When they parted, Arnold left a note for Alice: “ Be well and see you soon” but it was not to be – like the others on this transport he was sent directly to extermination in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Gift of Alice Randt, Grossburgwedel, Germany