An email about Lilly Friedman’s parachute wedding dress is making the rounds again. The email is un-credited, or I would attribute the source, but I can confirm that Lilly Friedman’s wedding dress is for real and is exhibited at The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Over 60 years ago, Lilly (Lax) Friedman was a DP (displaced person) in Bergen Belsen Displaced Person’s camp. Lilly had survived Auschwitz, a forced labor camp, a death march, and Bergen Belsen itself. In 1946, when Lilly Lax and Ludwig Friedman decided to marry, Ludwig bartered two pounds of coffee beans and a couple of packs of cigarettes for a German parachute. With the help of a seamstress, Lilly created the white wedding gown she was determined to have when she and Ludwig stood under the chuppah (wedding canopy). Many other DP brides borrowed Lilly’s dress. How many? “I stopped counting after 17,” says Lilly. For these women, the dress symbolized a return to normalcy after the Holocaust. Lilly’s father and her two brothers were exterminated immediately upon arriving at Auschwitz. Lilly and two sisters survived and live near each other now in Brooklyn, NY.
As a friend of mine said, “Amazing that she kept the dress.” That’s something I would have done. I still have the kippah (yarmulke) from the first bar mitzvah I ever went to. Do you have a beloved object you’ve kept all these years because of what it means to you? Perhaps an item of clothing, a watch, a medal, or a souvenir? Why not write a memoir about it? Write down “who, what, when, where, why, and how.” Where did you get it? Who made it? What does it mean to you? Tell its story. Lilly’s parachute wedding dress is a great example of an object with a story to tell. What is your parachute wedding dress?
My parachute wedding dress is an apron that belonged to my paternal great-great grandmother, Martha Anne (Moore) Gott (born 12-25-1834 died 3-9-1917, age 82). A few years ago, I was given Martha's apron on a family visit to the Gotts in Montrose, Colorado (my late father’s cousin, the late Max Gott, and wife, Darlene Gott). Darlene gave it to me and said, “Her name was Martha. You should have this.”
I want to preserve the apron and possible display it, but don’t know how. Any ideas? Let me know.
Tags: Bergen Belsen, family heirloom, Holocaust, Holocaust Museum Washington D.C., Lilly Friedman, Lilly Friedman's parachute wedding dress, memoir, memoir ideas, memoir writing, memoir writing tips, Montrose Colorado, storytelling, why write, writing