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Saturday, 4 July 2020

Despair as Holocaust survivor's treasured gold pendant that survived cruelty of Hitler and Stalin is LOST in customs at Heathrow

  • Golden pendant had been posted from America to relatives living in Oxford
  • The heirloom, crafted before the Second World War belonged to Eva Porges
  • Eva and husband Jan Roäek survived Auschwitz and later swam to freedom from communism
  • ParcelForce to pay compensation to the family and donate to Holocaust charity
A family heirloom that survived the Holocaust and escaped the rise of communism has been lost in the post while travelling through customs.
The gold pendant was crafted by Vilém Werner, a Jewish Czech, for his niece, Eva Porges and featured her name.
The heirloom, believed to have been crafted between 1927 and 1941, was on its way to Eva's cousin three times removed in Oxford from America when it vanished after arriving at Heathrow on April 3.
Eva's husband Jan Roäek had tried to pass on the heirloom to his family's next generation by sending it to relative Mim Saxl, 39, in Oxford whose daughter is named Eva after Mrs Porges.
Missing: A gold pendant family heirloom (pictured) that survived the Holocaust and escaped the rise of communism has been lost in the post while travelling through customs
Missing: A gold pendant family heirloom (pictured) that survived the Holocaust and escaped the rise of communism has been lost in the post while travelling through customs
Happy couple: Eva met her future husband Jan at the camp but they were then sent separately to Aushwitz, where Eva's father died, and both Eva and Jan assumed the other had also died. The pair, and the pendant, were reunited after the war and the couple married in 1947
Happy couple: Eva met her future husband Jan at the camp but they were then sent separately to Aushwitz, where Eva's father died, and both Eva and Jan assumed the other had also died. The pair, and the pendant, were reunited after the war and the couple married in 1947
Ms Saxl said: 'Jan had decided that he wanted to give this pendant to my younger daughter since she's named after Eva, so it could be worn in her memory and her memory would live on.
'He didn't want my older daughter, Maya, to feel left out, so he got one made in a similar style to say her name, and he put them both in the post.
'The mistake that he feels he made was he sent them registered delivery and declared their value, so it was a small package with a high value.
'So our guess is that it went into a pocket at some point.'
She added: 'I feel really sad about it and I share Jan's frustration, because the way he sent it was meant to keep it safe.
Eva Saxl, the cousin three times removed of Eva Porges was to receive the pendant
Eva Porges pictured as a chiled
The heirloom, believed to have been crafted between 1927 and 1941, was on its way to Eva's cousin three times removed, Eva Saxl, (left) in Oxford from America when it vanished after arriving at Heathrow on April 3. Right: Eva Porges pictured as a child
'I feel bad for him because I don't want him to feel foolish for sending it - it was a really generous, precious gift.'
Mr Verner, who crafted the pendant did not survive the Holocaust and died with his wife and daughter in Latvia in 1942 – the same year Eva and her family were transported from Prague to Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Before the family were transported, the pendant was left in the care of a Christian friend of Eva's mother.
Eva met her future husband Jan at the camp but they were then sent separately to Aushwitz, where Eva's father died, and both Eva and Jan assumed the other had also died.
The pair, and the pendant, were reunited after the war and the couple married in 1947.
Post war: Eva Porges smiles in a photo taken after the war in 1946. Her pendant, which survived the Holocaust and an escape from communism was lost at Heathrow
Post war: Eva Porges smiles in a photo taken after the war in 1946. Her pendant, which survived the Holocaust and an escape from communism was lost at Heathrow
However, the new communist regime wanted their skills as chemists and accused Jan of a crime and tried to force him to work for them – so the pair decided to board a small boat that sailed daily for Denmark to escape.
Passengers from Europe's eastern bloc were banned from the boat but Eva managed to buy tickets for herseld, Jan, their two sons and Eva's mother.
At the Danish port of Gedser, the family jumped over the side of the ship and swam to mainland Denmark where they waited for three months to secure US visas.
They were supported financially by cousins of Jan in England, Hella Kleeman and Susie Lind. Eva gave the pendant to Susie's daughter Anna to say thank you for supporting them financially as she had nothing else of value except her wedding ring.
Eva died in Greenville, Delaware on June 28, 2015, and Anna returned the pendant to Jan that year.

Eva Porges posing with her cousins Harry Pisinger and Eda Werner as children. Both of her cousins died in the Holocaust
Eva Porges posing with her cousins Harry Pisinger and Eda Werner as children. Both of her cousins died in the Holocaust
Eva Porges (right) with husband Jan and relative Mim Saxl with her eldest daughter Maya (left) in 2014
Eva Porges (right) with husband Jan and relative Mim Saxl with her eldest daughter Maya (left) in 2014
In 2016, Eva Saxl was born, and in March of this year Yan was set to visit Eva and her mother Mim in Demark to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his escape from communism, but the coronavirus pandemic prevented the trip from going ahead.
Unable to deliver the pendant to Eva in person, Jan posted is, but after a few weeks he rang Mim to check it had been delivered.
Ms Saxl said: 'It was a few weeks later Jan sent me a few emails saying, 'have you had the package?'
'We initially thought it was just held up at customs, and it may still be the case that it's somewhere at customs.
'But Jan did ask USPS (United States Postal Service) to find it and they looked for it, and they cannot locate it. So they have actually declared it lost.'
The gold pendant was crafted by Vilém Werner (pictured), a Jewish Czech, for his niece, Eva Porges and featured her name
The gold pendant was crafted by Vilém Werner (pictured), a Jewish Czech, for his niece, Eva Porges and featured her name
The package was confirmed to have arrived at Heathrow where ParcelForce was meant to collect it, but their last update claimed that the parcel was stuck in customs.
Mim said: 'When I contacted USPS they said 'contact ParcelForce, they're the UKside'. So then I contacted ParcelForce and they said 'we don't have it. Get the sender to contact USPS'.
'Perhaps it never made it through customs.'
Mim is now offering a 'significant financial reward' for the pendant's return and can be contacted via the website www.evaspendant.com
A Parcelforce Worldwide spokesperson said: 'We sincerely apologise that, on this occasion, we were not able to provide the service usually expected from Parcelforce Worldwide, which resulted in the subsequent loss of this very sentimental item. We will continue our efforts to trace the parcel. 
'Every item we handle is important to us and we always strive to provide the best possible service to all of our customers. While we can fully appreciate that there is no amount of money that compensates for this loss, we are arranging for the family to receive a payment in compensation for this item and the distress caused. 
'We will also match this by paying the same amount of money to a Holocaust memorial charity of the family's choosing.'
MailOnline has contacted USPS and UK Customs for comment.

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