Czechoslovak invetiveness never ceases to amaze: Wedding gown made out of a parachute! / Zlate rucicky cechoslovaku nikdy nezklamou: svatebni saty usite z padaku!Czechoslovak wedding dress made out of a parachute | Czechmatediary
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Czechoslovak invetiveness never ceases to amaze: Wedding gown made out of a parachute! / Zlate rucicky cechoslovaku nikdy nezklamou: svatebni saty usite z padaku!

Lilly Friedman and her husband at their weddingThis amazing story is about Lilly Friedman, a woman who was raised in a former Czechoslovakia and who also survived Auschwitz, a forced labor camp, a death march and  Bergen Belsen concentration camp (also a famous Czech painter and writer Josef Capek died here). Her unfortunate life experiences did not break her spirit, however, having managed to have a special wedding during those hard times, wearing a very special gown. It really is amazing that some people nowadays have the audacity to say that Holocaust did not happen…how would they justify the following story, then?

CZ: Toto je neuveritelny pribeh Lilly Friedmanove, rodacky z ceskoslovenske Zarice, ktera nejen ze prezila Auschwitz, concentracni tabor v Bergen Belsen (kde mimochodem umrel take Josef Capek), ale take hruzny pochod smrti. Tezky osud ji ale nezlomil po strance dusevni, prave naopak. Dokazala totiz usporadat nejen ze mimoradnou svatbu, ale take nosila mimoradne svatebni saty. Je opravdu nevidane, ze jsou na svete lide, kteri veri tomu, ze Holokaust je pouhy mytus.

‘LILLY FRIEDMAN doesn’t remember the last name of the woman who designed and sewed the wedding gown she wore when she walked down the aisle over 60 years ago. But the grandmother of seven does recall that when she first told her fiancé Ludwig that she had always dreamed of being married in a white gown he realized he had his work cut out for him.

For the tall, lanky 21-year-old who had survived hunger, disease and torture this was a different kind of challenge. How was he ever going to find such a dress in the Bergen Belsen Displaced Person’s camp where they felt grateful for the clothes on their backs?

Fate would intervene in the guise of a former German pilot who walked into the food distribution center where Ludwig worked, eager to make a trade for his worthless parachute. In exchange for two pounds of coffee beans and a couple of packs of cigarettes Lilly would have her wedding gown.

For two weeks Miriam the seamstress worked under the curious eyes of her fellow DPs, carefully fashioning the six parachute panels into a simple, long sleeved gown with a rolled collar and a fitted waist that tied in the back with a bow. When the dress was completed she sewed the leftover material into a matching shirt for the groom.

A white wedding gown may have seemed like a frivolous request in the surreal environment of the camps, but for Lilly the dress symbolized the innocent, normal life she and her family had once led before the world descended into madness. Lilly and her siblings were raised in a Torah observant home in the small town of Zarica, Czechoslovakia where her father was a melamed, respected and well liked by the young yeshiva students he taught in nearby Irsheva.

Four hundred people marched 15 miles in the snow to the town of Celle on January 27, 1946 to attend Lilly and Ludwig’s wedding. The town synagogue, damaged and desecrated, had been lovingly renovated by the DPs with the meager materials available to them. When a Sefer Torah arrived from England they converted an old kitchen cabinet into a makeshift Aron Kodesh.

“My sisters and I lost everything – our parents, our two brothers, our homes. The most important thing was to build a new home.” Six months later, Lilly’s sister Ilona wore the dress when she married Max Traeger. After that came Cousin Rosie. How many brides wore Lilly’s dress? “I stopped counting after 17.” With the camps experiencing the highest marriage rate in the world, Lilly’s gown was in great demand.

In 1948 when President Harry Truman finally permitted the 100,000 Jews who had been languishing in DP camps since the end of the war to emigrate, the gown accompanied Lilly across the ocean to America . Unable to part with her dress, it lay at the bottom of her bedroom closet for the next 50 years, “not even good enough for a garage sale. I was happy when it found such a good home.”

Home was the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington , D.C. When Lily’s niece, a volunteer, told museum officials about her aunt’s dress, they immediately recognized its historical significance and displayed the gown in a specially designed showcase, guaranteed to preserve it for 500 years.

Lilly Friedman and her parachute dress on display in the Bergen Belsen Museum But Lilly Friedman’s dress had one more journey to make. Bergen Belsen , the museum, opened its doors on October 28, 2007. The German government invited Lilly and her sisters to be their guests for the grand opening. They initially declined, but finally traveled to Hanover the following year with their children, their grandchildren and extended families to view the extraordinary exhibit created for the wedding dress made from a parachute.

Lilly’s family, who were all familiar with the stories about the wedding in Celle , were eager to visit the synagogue. They found the building had been completely renovated and modernized. But when they pulled aside the handsome curtain they were astounded to find that the Aron Kodesh, made from a kitchen cabinet, had remained untouched as a testament to the profound faith of the survivors. As Lilly stood on the bimah once again she beckoned to her granddaughter, Jackie, to stand beside her where she was once a kallah. “It was an emotional trip. We cried a lot.”

Two weeks later, the woman who had once stood trembling before the selective eyes of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele returned home and witnessed the marriage of her granddaughter.

The three Lax sisters – Lilly, Ilona and Eva, who together survived Auschwitz, a forced labor camp, a death march and Bergen Belsen – have remained close and today live within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn. As mere teenagers, they managed to outwit and outlive a monstrous killing machine, then went on to marry, have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and were ultimately honored by the country that had earmarked them for extinction.

As young brides, they had stood underneath the chuppah and recited the blessings that their ancestors had been saying for thousands of years. In doing so, they chose to honor the legacy of those who had perished by choosing life.’


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24 comments… add one
  • Karen May 30, 2009, 3:30 am

    What a beautiful story!

  • Jana V May 30, 2009, 8:58 am

    Beautiful story

  • Pablo May 30, 2009, 10:38 am
    This article doesn’t tell the whole truth. Holocaust is a Jewish human sacrifice ritual just history made it known as something different. I do not believe that what we learn about “The Holocaust” in schools is 100% truth.

    Tanja are you Jewish?

  • Tanja May 30, 2009, 11:57 am

    Hi Pablo, I am not Jewish but I definitely believe in Holocaust. However, I will still check out your link, OK?

  • lenka May 30, 2009, 6:33 pm

    Tanja, thank you so much for such a touching story. This is so amazing.
    Pablo, you do not have to be jewish to be passionate about this. I am not sure what you were taught at school and at home. I am not jewish, I do not have family that survived “holocaust” I think people get too wrapped up about how it is called and when the word originated or what the original meaning was used for. Call it Holocaust, call it slawter, call it whatever. But explain to people that lost loved once in this madness that it was all made up. None of that happened. Explain to the six year old that walks the Terezin walls, sees what was left behind, stands in the middle of the graves that all this is just a show. Explain her that the movie about a little girl she just saw was made up, that that little girl that was dragged away from her father and taken in the cattle cart with her mother for days and night without food and water to another camp was just to scare you. And when they shaved her head, walked her into a tunnel and all that was left from her was her new beautiful red shoe in a huge pile of other shoes was JUST a story. I was the six year old and I live near Terezin. Trust me, we did not build a whole town and made up all this history to atttract turists. Sorry, I get emotional when somebody suggests that this is all some kind of conspiracy or questins origins of religion just because somebody sites a story where part of it is a religion.

  • lenka May 30, 2009, 6:39 pm

    Besides, I think the point of this story was about something the Czech people are well known for. Czechs will take a piece of nothing and will make hope, future out of it.

  • B J King May 30, 2009, 10:00 pm

    Beautiful story. Brought tears to my eyes just knowing of the strength and determination people are capable of.

  • Tanja May 30, 2009, 10:37 pm

    I still don’t get this “holocaust did not happen” thing…what do you mean? How could it not happen despite all of the evidence??? That’s like saying that Czechoslovakia was not split into 2 countries…

  • Tanja May 30, 2009, 10:38 pm

    I still don’t get this “holocaust did not happen” thing…what do you mean? How could it not happen despite all of the evidence??? That’s like saying that Czechoslovakia was not split into 2 countries…

    And totally, Lenka, the Czechs have ‘zlate rucicky’ (golden hands) when it comes to anything 🙂

  • keef May 31, 2009, 12:45 am


    What do you mean by “Holocaust is a Jewish human sacrifice ritual just history made it known as something different”?

    And what is you think we are not learning in schools?

    And why would you ask Tanja if she is Jewish because she published this story?

    Your statements and question sound…strange to say the least.

  • B J King May 31, 2009, 11:32 am

    Jewish human sacrafice ritual?????? No Holocaust????? My husband was born in the former Czechoslovakia and was a boy rambling through the streets watching people being rounded up and put on trains to where he didn’t know at the time. Pablo why don’t you try to tell who were there your thoughts on the matter. What cave do you live in?????

  • Daniel June 2, 2009, 1:20 am

    Pablo, you are an idiot

  • lenka June 2, 2009, 1:32 pm

    come on guys, maybe Pablo has a perfectly reasonable explanation. 🙂
    Maybe one of these days he will get his b.lls back and leave a reasonable post.

  • pavla June 5, 2009, 1:32 pm

    This is a great story.
    Would like to see how many Czech girls would be able to make there own Wedding dress.
    I tell u the truth I don’t think I’m one of them.

  • Tanja June 5, 2009, 4:31 pm

    Please, you take a pillow case, cut 3 holes in it and you have a great wedding dress! Oh, and if you want to be real fancy, you can thigh a rope around your waist to show off your lines 😉

  • pavla June 9, 2009, 3:08 pm

    No tak fajn, koukam, ze jestli se jeste nekdy”vdam” tak si od tebe nechat Tani usit svaebni saty.
    To bude urcite rarita.
    Prosila bych bile pillow cases prosim a tu snuru kolem pasu nejakou ozdobnou :D,
    No i kdyz nevim jestli povlak n apolstar bude dost, mozna budes muset pouzit povlak na deku.
    V Ikei maji velky vyber!

  • Leah Jacobs June 10, 2009, 10:10 am

    I just returned from Prague where I was visiting with my uncle. He had a beautiful childhood in the Czech country, from a family of seven. In all, he is the only survivor of his family which numbered thirty three people: meaning, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, brothers and baby sister Clara, all gone.
    Go look at the names of the people from 153 communities written on the walls of Pinkhas museum in the Jewish square. These completely innocent people truly existed, my family.

    And yes, they were murdered.

    The war was a fire that raged out of control, sweeping through Europse, taking with it millions of innocent lives.

    These people did not just evaporate. They were systematically robbed of their lives. From the Nurenberg Laws, Losing their jobs, their rights, their incomes, finally their homes, their possessions. Finally their clothes, the fillings in their mouths, and finally … their lives.

    This is fact. Go to Prague and look, it’s all there.
    Go to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Look at the millions of shoes there. They had been worn by innocent men women and children whose only “fault” is that they were born Jewish. Not that they didn’t contribute to Czech history: they did. Check the Spanish Museum for this. The Jews contributed alot. They were an integral part of Czech culture that has existed many many years.
    Go to the Holocaust Museum in America, in NYC. It’s there. Believe me, it’s right there in the numbers on my uncle’s left arm. It’s there in the sadness behind the smile in his eyes when he thinks of his little sister Clara who is no longer.

    We must learn from this ugly past.

    We must learn to value life, to respect differences, not fear them. To learn from each other’s differences. And finally, to realize that we are all created in God’s image – no matter what color, race or creed. No one people has the corner market on God and can dictate what God wants in terms of hurting others who are different. It is God himself that creates people, each in his own way.

    I wish Pablo a more enlightened journey.


  • Tanja June 10, 2009, 3:30 pm

    Hi Leah,

    I can’t believe your uncle lost so many of his relatives! That is just insane…I feel so sorry for him. If anything this story should change Pablo’s mind

  • Franchesca June 30, 2009, 3:16 am

    Pablo and anyone else who does not understand what happened during this time. You did not have to be Jewish to have been a victim of this massive round up that ended up killing many humans. All you had to be was undesirable in one fashion or another. Open your eyes and read about all the others that were victims of this. It was NOT just a Jewish thing Pablo, it was not mass suicide or sacrifice. I so feel sorry for you and people like you.

  • Ava June 30, 2009, 11:48 am

    Shame on you, Pablo! I can’t tell whether you are just ignorant or an antisemite. If you are ignorant, do your research. Why not start with surviving Jews who have numbers tattooed on their arms like cattle. Is this human sacrifice rituals? No way. Or listen to the stories of those who lost their entire families to gas chambers, who ate bugs and worse to survive starvation.Check out the crematories and the photos. The evidence for the Holocaust exists to this day. If you are an antisemite, I feel very sorry for you. Have you or your family not experienced hatred? Why do you hate those you do not know? Does hatred make the world better? NO. Beautiful stories like Lilli’s wedding dress and hope and love make this a better world. Grow up.

  • Barbara July 2, 2009, 7:22 am

    How glad I am that Lilly chose to have hope and wish for the ‘normal’ rituals that young ladies wish for all those years ago. After all the tragedy that she suffered, she went on with her life and love found a way.
    Too bad some people think that the whole Holocaust didn’t happen. Tell that to the 11 million or so non-Jews that were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Do you think they sacrificed themselves for propoganda?
    I am not a Jew but I think that if anyone doubts the existance of God that they should look at the history of the Jews. They have been persecuted again and again
    by many nations and unlike any other people that suffered similar persecution they haven’t been destroyed.
    Be careful what you say as the Lord says that he will bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel.
    Therefore I choose to bless Israel and Lilly and thank you for the uplifting story.

  • layla February 8, 2011, 3:19 pm

    hmh okay i dont understand what this has to do with the parachute being also used with the germans during WWI???

  • Unni June 19, 2015, 5:56 am

    Very good story, where is Lilly now

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