Bobbe Dishes

Set of china stamped "US zone"
Set of china stamped "US zone"

These “Bobbe Dishes” are an important part of my family’s history. My bobbe (great grandmother) was born in Grodna, which at the time was located in Poland, in May 1916. By the time the Soviet Union took control of Grodno, my bobbe’s father, Elchanan Harkavy, had owned several leather factories. Labeled as a capitalist by the communist government, he and his family were exiled to Siberia. 
After the Second World War was over, my Bobbe’s family was sent back to Poland. My great grandparents met while fleeing Poland and were married upon arrival to American DP camp Ansbach in the US zone of Germany. Two years later, my grandmother was born in the DP camp. IIn my bobbe’s family, it was the tradition for each of the daughters to be given a set of china as her dowry. But when my bobbe was married, her family had nothing to give her. Partially motived by this, and partially motivated by their desire to own something of value when they would come to America, my great grandparents decided to purchase their own set of china. While at Ansbach, my grandparents smuggled the cigarettes and chocolate they were given out of the camp under my grandmother in her baby carriage and bartered these goods for a set of china. When my great grandparents were finally allowed to come to America in 1951, my bobbe was 8 months pregnant with my great aunt. The family flew from Munich to Idlewild airport and all their belongings were shipped oversea. Every dish they had bought arrived at Ellis Island intact with the exception of one teacup, which as my bobbe would say, was “skvahsed

Place(s): Ansbach, Germany
Year: 1951

– Eliana Worenklein

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant