Accession Number: NEKHC:2015.48

Object: Birth Certificate

Category: Hedi Argent; Austria

Physical Description: Paper and ink. Complete.

Information on Item: This certificate forms part of the Hedi Argent Collection. It belonged to Hedi, who was born Hedwig Schnabl. The back of the certificate is stamped to show that Sara had been added to Hedi's name, as mandated by the Nazi regime because she was Jewish.

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Information:  Hedi Argent was born in 1929, and lived in a suburb of Vienna, Austria with her parents Max and Liza. Hedi’s father was a lawyer and her mother trained as a chemist before raising Hedi. Although the family were Jewish they did not practice. At school Hedi was avoided by other children because of her being Jewish, and she had to leave the school after the Anschluss. As the family became more restricted by anti-Jewish laws Hedi’s father lost his job and they lost their home and many belonging. The family managed to leave Austria intending to travel to the United States of America, but stayed in England as the Second World War prevented further travel.

Speaking of her birth certificate in 2016, Hedi says: ‘This is my original birth certificate, issued in Vienna, on the Eleventh July nineteen twenty-nine, the day I was born. And interesting enough not issued by the Council of Vienna, but it is issued by the Jewish Council. You had to belong to a religion, you had to register with the council of your religion, birth certificates were issued by the Catholic Church, sometimes by the Christian Church, or the Jewish committee. My name on it is Hedwig Schnabl, because you were not allowed to use shortened names either, but I was always known as Hedi. I have never been known as Hedwig, I was called Hedwig after my father’s twin sister, who died of influenza, at the end of the First World War […] So this was my birth certificate until nineteen thirty-eight, and the Anschluss, when all Jewish women had to change their names to become Sara […] and we had to take our birth certificates, this time not to the Jewish Council but to the Council in Vienna, and we had to have it stamped at the back with a Swastika, and with our new name, Sara’.

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