Berland family collection
Felicia Hyatt (born Felicja Berland) was born on May 2, 1920. She was the only child of Sara Hilf and Abraham Berland, who ran a bakery in Chełm, Poland. Felicja attended a public gymnasium in the 1930s. She was one of four Jews in her class who were admitted under the quota system. Felicja's parents, moderately observant Jews, supplemented her secular education with private tutoring in Hebrew and Jewish liturgy. In June 1938 Felicja moved to Warsaw, Poland with her mother. The following spring her father left for Bolivia, hoping to gain entry into the United States. He did so in 1941. Felicja and her mother remained in Warsaw the first year of the war, but returned to Chełm in November 1940 to avoid being forced into the Warsaw ghetto. For two years they lived in the open Chelm ghetto, where they were forced to serve in labor battalions. For a time Felicja also worked for the Chelm Judenrat distributing bread rations. Her mother bought and sold clothing on the black market. On the eve of the final liquidation of the ghetto, Felicja and her mother went into hiding with two different Polish families. After the action Felicja was mistakenly informed that her mother had been shot. Felicja then resolved to kill herself and sat down on an isolated railroad track to await a passing train. She was pulled off by a railroad official who told her the train had been derailed by partisans. Soon after Felicja learned her mother was still alive. They were reunited briefly but decided their chances of surviving were better if they separated. From Chełm, Felicja moved from place to place until she was able to secure false papers. In Krakow she found a position as a housekeeper for the family of an SS officer. She remained there until she was arrested for carrying false papers in February 1943. Initially detained in the notorious Monte Loupich prison, her former SS employer had her transferred to the prison in the Krakow ghetto. During the liquidation of the ghetto, a few weeks later, Felicja and her fellow prison inmates were deported by truck to Auschwitz concentration camp. The group was about to be shot in the main camp when an order was issued for their immediate transfer to Birkenau concentration camp. Felicja was among 25 women who were selected for the gas chamber. The group, however, was given a sudden reprieve by Dr. Josef Mengele, when he yielded to the protestations of several women who claimed they had been misidentified as Jews during the round-ups in Krakow. Mengele accompanying them back to the unloading ramp and then directed them to the prisoners' barracks. Felicja remained in Auschwitz until October 1944 when she volunteered with a group of Hungarian women for a transport to the Reich. She was sent to the Stare Mesto (Nad Vahom) labor camp, where she was liberated the following May by the Russians. After the liberation Felicja returned to Poland. She lived in Łódź for several months with friends she had met in Auschwitz. In the spring of 1946, she left for Stockholm, Sweden, where her father sent funds to support her until she could emigrate. Felicja joined her father in New York in the summer of 1948. Her mother perished in the Holocaust.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Felicia Berland Hyatt
Funding Note: The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Felicia Berland Hyatt donated the Berland family collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in June1998.
The Berland family collection consists of 27 black and white photographs, three documents, and one negative relating to Felicia Berland Hyatt and her family in Chelm, Poland, before the war; in Łódź, Poland, and Sweden after the war; and her emigration to North America as a displaced person.
The Berland family collection is arranged in a single series.