Berta Klipstein & Her Grandmother

Berta Klipstein & grandmother, Bielska, 1935. • Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association (Huddersfield)

This treasure, from the Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association (Huddersfield), is a photo of Berta Klipstein and her grandmother in Bielska, Poland, 1935. In September 1939, Berta, her mother, stepfather, aunt, uncle and grandmother fled east as the Germans advanced. They travelled for two weeks until they reached Russian occupied Lusk (Luck) on the eve of Yom Kippur. When the family refused to become Russian citizens, they were taken to Siberia. In August 1940 they were taken by passenger train to the village of Pichtach, near Novobirsk, where Berta went to school. Her mother worked as a dressmaker to survive and they also bartered items they had brought with them. In June 1941, following the Nazi invasion to Russia, the Poles were once again considered allies and Polish people were allowed to leave Siberia. Berta’s family travelled for a while and settled in the Uzbekistan, where her grandmother (in the photo) died.

The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre promotes Holocaust Education through the lived experiences of Holocaust survivors and refugees. It is part of the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA), a charity originating in 1996 to support Holocaust survivors and refugees in Leeds.

The HSFA collects, preserves and exhibits artefacts, records and testimonies of Holocaust survivors and refugees who made their lives in the North of England. In donating their personal possessions, the archive was entrusted with the hope that these precious items – and the stories that they tell – would engage future generations with the history of the Holocaust, diaspora and its impact on today’s world. Furthermore, the archive’s digital collection of oral histories shows the impact of the Shoah on the lives of people then and in the contemporary world.

This treasure is a window into the experiences of Berta and her family, who endured forced and remote emigration to the Soviet Union, an unfamiliar aspect of World War Two history. You can read more about Berta here.


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Hidden Treasures: Celebrating the documents, photos and artefacts in British archives that tell the story of Jews in Britain