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Loonah, Black Cupboard and Racial Purity


Loonah, Black Cupboard and Racial Purity


I had this cupboard restored two years ago. It has been in my family since the World War II, but it is some decades older. It is a heritage... a kind of an unwished for one. It just stayed with us because there was nobody who would claim it back.

It belonged to the family of the wife of my granduncle. They were Jewish. My granduncles´ wife, Marie, was a doctor, as well as her husband Vlad. They had a little boy just born when the war broke out. When my country was occupied by the Nazis and new laws were adopted, there were two options for such mixed marriages: either they could get divorced, and only the Jewish spouse went to a concentration camp together with the children, while the other spouse was saved, or they could stick together, in which case the whole family would end up in concentration or forced labour camps.

When Marie’s family’s transport to the Terezin concentration camp became imminent, the family decided to store their belongings with their friends and non-Jewish in-laws, thinking that when the war was over, they would claim them back. Several pieces of their furniture ended up in the attic of my Grandfather’s house. Marie had a very old Grandmother who wanted to die at her home, in peace. She did not feel strong enough to go through the ordeal of the Terezin concentration camp. She asked Marie, the doctor, to help her die. Marie fulfilled her wish.

Vlad did not divorce Marie. He was sent to a forced-labour camp. He was brave enough to plan an escape, and with the help of one of his sisters, who had her own identity documents altered for Vlad to use them on his run, he escaped and joined the local guerrilla troops. For several months after this, his sister used to sleep with a sharp knife under her pillow, to cut her wrists in case Gestapo came for her.

A doctor from my Grandfather’s village issued a false death certificate for Marie’s and Vlad´s baby boy so that the Nazi’s authorities would consider him dead and would not sent him to a concentration camp for being a half-Jew. The little boy lived with my Grandfather’s family until the War’s end under a false identity.

Marie and all her relatives were sent to Terezin. She spent long months there and, contrary to the rest of her family, she survived. The war ended just before she would be sent to Auschwitz.

Marie returned home, reunited with her husband Vlad and her little boy. However, she was heavily traumatised with all the suffering she witnessed for so long. Traumatised with the loss of her whole family. She tried to restore her life. She gave birth to another child. However, her wounds were so sore and deep that she could not live with them. She committed suicide.

Nobody claimed the black cupboard back. It is still with us, a piece of history which touched human lives.