Jacket : woven, sewn, machine, hand, leather work, embroidery, metal work : grey-brown, brown, beige, black, orange, silver
Other Title Information
Grey-brown leather, sheepskin?, single-breasted with 7 metal hooks at the opening, to keep the 2 sides together. On each side is an inner pocket, at the waist. There is white, wool trim on the collar, down the front (on both sides of the opening), along the pockets, bottom edge and sleeves. Next to the trim is a red leather trim, with braided detailing and embroidered detailing bordering the leather. The back is grey-brown, with brown leather braiding going vertically on both sides, outlining the waist. More leather detailing is found on the shoulders and collar, with 5 embroidered filigree lines going down at the upper middle back. The jacket is lined with black wool and the pockets are lined with orange corduroy. Narrative: Blanca Pinsker was living in Bialystok when the Russian army invaded this part of Poland in 1939. The Russians confiscated the family store. Away on business in Warsaw, Blanca bought this sheepskin jacket and was wearing it when she confronted the Russian Kommissar, asking him to give her the family store back. Blanca was given back the keys, but the Kommissar asked her to become a informer. Blanca declined and the family decided to liquidate their business and left for Vilnius. In 1941, the Germans invaded the region and the Pinsker family was sent to the ghetto. Soon after, Blanca, her sister Ruth and nephew Alex secured false identity papers to be able to pass as Aryans and left the Vilnius ghetto for a place called Miadzol. In March 1943, a policeman came to their house and asked Blanca to follow him to the local German authorities. Blanca put on her sheepskin jacket and followed him. Later, along with three other people, she was taken away in a train. After a long ride, their guard let them out and went into a home to get a mug for them to drink out of. While he turned away from his prisoners, Blanca ran away. The guard shot after her, but missed. In a courtyard shed nearby she found inside an old-fashioned buffet in which she managed to hide. The German guard didn’t find her and she spent the night hiding in the buffet. The following day she walked through the fields in direction of Vilnius. She walked to a place called Wojstom where she found refuge in a priest’s home. He let her stay overnight, fed her and procured her with a birth certificate under the name Maryia Gorska. Following the priest’s directions, Blanca managed to get back to the Vilnius ghetto where she was reunited with her brother Marek. As Maryia Gorska, she applied for a job in a farm in Lithuania and worked there until the end of the war. All that time, Blanca never parted with her jacket, which brought her “warmth, shelter, and some solace”. She brought it with her when she immigrated to Canada in 1948.