Bearing Witness: Stories Behind the Artifacts in the Yad Vashem Museum Collection

Box containing pendants created by Misu Wolf, imprisoned in Rybnica prison, as a gift for his girlfriend Sali Buium, an inmate at the Vapniarka camp

Box containing the pendant that Misu Wolf crafted in Rybnica prison as a gift for his girlfriend, Sali Buium, who was imprisoned in the Vapniarca campBox containing the pendant that Misu Wolf crafted in Rybnica prison as a gift for his girlfriend, Sali Buium, who was imprisoned in the Vapniarca camp   More photos

As anti-Jewish activity increased in Romania in the years prior to World War II, Sali Buium (b. 1918) joined an anti-fascist movement, fully aware of the risk she was taking.

In 1939, Sali and a group of other young Jews were accused of subversive anti-fascist activity and imprisoned for one year. She was released and then imprisoned again, this time in the Targu Jiu concentration camp. In September 1942, she was deported with other Jews accused of communist activity to the Vapniarka camp in Transnistria.

At Vapniarka, Sali met Misu Wolf. They fell in love and made plans to start a family in the  future. However, the couple was separated when Misu was sent with the other male prisoners accused of communist sympathies from Vapniarka to Rybnica prison.

Unlike Vapniarka, where despite the difficult conditions the prisoners received a certain amount of leeway, Rybnica prison was heavily guarded by SS men and Ukranians.

In early 1944, news of the approach of the Red Army reached the ears even of the Rybnica prisoners. During this period, Misu Wolf created a gift for his girlfriend - a pendant consisting of a small wooden box holding two medallions. The box is engraved with Sali’s name, and one medallion portrays the figure of a prisoner signed on the back “Misu”, while the other is engraved with the words “Rybnica” 8th March 1944 framing a watch showing the hour: five to twelve, symbolizing the hope for liberation in the near future.

Tragically, the hope expressed by Misu turned out to be false. On the night between the 19th and 20th of March 1944, the retreating German forces liquidated Rybnica prison and all the prisoners were murdered, among them Misu Wolf.

Sali kept the small memento from her beloved. With the evacuation of the Vapniarka camp she was sent to several other camps, and only liberated with the fall of the Antonescu regime in August 1944. In 1945, Sali married Sandu Abramovitch, and in 1977 they immigrated to Israel.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection,
Gift of Sali Abramovitch, Haifa