The cat and dog pins were made in Terezin and belonged to Erika Jelinkova. In 1942, Erika had been deported on the same transport from Prague to Terezin as her school friend Gertrude Hojtas, along with Gertrude’s two young daughters. These two little girls, Ghita aged 10 and Zuzana, 7, donated many objects from the years they were at Terezin, including metal pins made for Ghita, drawings made by Zuzana and correspondence and greetings from Ghita to her mother, sister and Erika during the time that Ghita was ill with scarlet fever.
It is unclear from our remotely accessible records who made the two pins owned by Erika, but the credit line is different from the numerous items donated by Ghita and Zuzana to the Museum the same year. When we return to the Museum, and our paper files, we hope to learn more about the friendship between Erika, Gertrude and the girls.
Ghita was hospitalized in the ghetto with scarlet fever, probably between November and February, 1942-1943, and she wrote many letters to her mother. Translated from the Czech, on the back of one envelope Ghita drew two hearts and wrote, “From love and faithfulness to my dear Mommy. Out of love to Aunt Erika and Zuzka”.
Many of the objects donated by Ghita and Zuzana are drawings Zuzana made for Gertrude during the three years they were in the Terezin ghetto, delightful and surprising examples of a child’s art and craft while in a difficult situation for three years. Although they were interned in a ghetto, occasions came and went and they were marked with sweet handwork from Zuzana to her mother.
Erika was half Jewish, and had a job in the office at Terezin, which made it possible for her to help Gertrude and the two girls survive the conditions in the ghetto. Gertrude and the girls were liberated in 1945, reunited with Gertrude’s husband Emil in Czechoslovakia and emigrated to the United States in 1948.