Bringing the Designs to Life

Bringing the Designs to Life

The people who died during the Holocaust had their futures taken from them, their hopes and dreams left unfinished. All too often, they had their past taken from them as well, since everyone who knew them was also gone.

When the Strnad family found Paul’s letter with his wife’s dress designs, they did not even know her name. Now, thanks to the efforts of Jewish Museum Milwaukee, we not only know Hedy’s name, but something about her life and personality. From Hedy’s niece, we know that Hedy had red hair, was fashionable, and smoked. She and Paul had a hobby of making puppets and putting on shows. They were happy, jolly people. Professionally, Hedy had a dressmaking shop, with multiple machines, and sometimes her employees would sew doll dresses for Hedy’s young niece. These details do not bring Hedy back to life, but they do revive her in our memory, and remind us that everyone who was killed during the Holocaust was an individual with a story.

Hedy's Dress Designs

Everything was taken from Hedy, including her chance to bring her dress designs to life. Completing this project for her is a meaningful act of memorialization, as it brings Hedys’ talent and creativity into the current day. Hedy’s dresses were fabricated by the Milwaukee Repertory Costume Shop and were given a "Hedy Original" label, allowing her to posthumously have the fashion line taken from her by the Holocaust.