A Jacket of Auschwitz to be given to the MHMC
September 14, 2011
Montreal, September 14th, 2011 - On Monday, September 26th, on the day of her 97th birthday, Imy (Irma) Nemenoff-Gellert will be donating the jacket she was forced to wear in Auschwitz, to the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre (MHMC). Giving this jacket to the MHMC is an emotional decision for Imy's whole family, as it is the only material remnant of her internment during the war. They decided to donate the jacket to the Museum so that it stays in Montreal, where Imy made her home and spent most of her post-war life. It is important to them that it be preserved in the right conservation conditions, along with its history, and that it be made available to people outside their family.
"I was decorated with this jacket when I arrived in Auschwitz, said Imy, not right away but after a few days". The jacket had the number "609 U" with U for Ungar (Hungarian in German). Imy Nemenoff-Gellert was born in Lugoj, Romania, on September 26, 1914. She was deported to Auschwitz II-Birkenau (Poland) and her husband was killed in Auschwitz. She worked in the commando in charge of cleaning the latrines and was also forced to dig holes in the ground for no known reason. At the end of the war, she was deported to Mauthausen (Austria), where she was liberated by the US armed forces. After Liberation, Imy worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration doing clerical work and translation. She immigrated to Canada in 1946 as part of the "Domestic Scheme" and became a maid in Toronto.
Julie Guinard, the Museum Coordinator in charge of the MHMC collection, explains the significance of this donation to the Centre and Holocaust historical museums in general: "A very small number of prisoners kept their uniforms after Liberation, and even fewer brought them to their new country of residence, and so few still have one". She adds: "This jacket is also a meaningful artefact about the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau". Among its collection, the Centre owns only 3 uniforms of concentration camp prisoners: one is a dress worn by a woman in four different camps in Poland, one is a jacket worn by a man in Auschwitz and another was worn in Dachau. Imy's jacket is the first worn by a woman in Auschwitz-Birkenau to enter the collection.
To further its collection, the Museum is looking for artefacts and photographs on life before, during and immediately after the Holocaust, or related to antisemitism in the past. People who have objects related to the Holocaust and who wish to ensure their long-term preservation and their use for educational purposes are encouraged to meet with Julie Guinard to discuss the donation of such objects.
The Museum collection holds more than 7,500 objects, documents and photographs related to the history of the Holocaust, as well as 480 survivor testimonies filmed for the "Witness-to-History" program. The collection is intended for research and educational purposes, and is used throughout the museum's permanent exhibition and in pedagogical tools. The Centre owns the largest collection of Holocaust-related materials in Canada thanks to generous donations from survivors who immigrated to Montreal, as well as their families.
The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre informs and sensitizes people of all ages and backgrounds about the Holocaust as well as the universal perils of antisemitism, racism, hate and indifference.
The Centre encourage journalists to come to discover the jacket and meet Imy Nenenoff Gellert. Julie Guinard, Museum Coordinator in charge of the collection will be available for interview with journalist by request to: Audrey Licop 514-345-2605, ext. 3026 or 514-892-2605 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org