Hugo and Irma Schwartz from the town of Villingen in Germany, were deported to the Gurs detainment camp in France in October 1940, shortly after they had managed to send their three children to safety in Switzerland. During their detainment, they were able to correspond with their children, Margarete, Heinz and Manfred, and to send them small gifts that Irma made in the camp.
On the occasion of Heinz's Bar Mitzvah on 31 August 1942, his parents sent him a pair of gloves and a raffia glasses case embroidered with his initials. In the accompanying letter, Hugo wrote:
"Dear Heinz, I send you my blessing on your special day. You are in my thoughts and I hug you and give you a big kiss."
The wrapping paper of the package is stamped with the date 28 July 1942. A few days after the Bar Mitzvah gifts were sent along with the parents' last letters, Hugo and Irma were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where they were murdered.
The three siblings immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) after the war and changed their names to Dalia, Itzik and Uri. All they had left of their parents were their final letters and the Bar Mitzvah presents that their mother had made while imprisoned and separated from her children, and with which she sought to express her love and give them joy.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by Yitzhak Ben Yehuda (Schwartz), Ramat Ef'al, Israel, Dalia (Schwartz) Miller, Haifa, Israel