Edna and her son, Jay
Eta Ipp (Butrimowitz) was born in Butrimantz, Lithuania in 1911. She eloped in 1933, marrying Isroel Ipp, a young lawyer. The couple had a son, Yacob Ipp, on June 5, 1935. Eta and Isroel raised their son in Viliampole (Slobodka), Lithuania near both Eta’s and Isroel’s families.
Isroel trained as a lawyer but Lithuanian restrictions on Jews kept him from practicing. To support his family he opened a business selling and repairing motorcycles. In August 1941, the Ipps were forced to move into the Kovno ghetto. The family moved in with Eta’s immediate family, sharing a small dwelling. In October 1943, the Butrimowitz family was deported to Estonia and eventually wound up in Riga where they later perished.
After this deportation, Eta and Isroel decided to attempt to flee the ghetto. In the fall of 1943, the couple made arrangements through Eta’s uncle to escape to a farm in Trakai, Lithuania. The family was sheltered by Vaclovas and Ona Paskauskas, spending six months living in an underground potato hole created by Isroel. The Ipps were liberated in July 1944. At the end of the war, the family spent some time in Munich, Germany before immigrating to the States in 1947. After arriving in the U.S. the Ipps changed their names, becoming Edna, Israel, and Jay Ipson. The Ipsons settled in Richmond, Virginia.
Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project
Each spring, St. Michael’s Episcopal School seventh graders engage in an inquiry-based humanities project. Student groups create podcast episodes exploring a theme from Holocaust literature within the historical context of World War Two. In 2020, the nature of that project shifted to accommodate virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than working in groups to explore thematic connections between literature and history, students created original texts of their own that memorialize the experiences of Virginia Holocaust survivors.
Using the Virginia Holocaust Museum’s extensive collection of survivor testimonies, each student chose a survivor, watched and listened to their story, and took copious notes on what they heard. Then, students synthesized the survivor’s experience, putting it in their own words, adding in historical context when necessary, and recorded themselves retelling their survivor’s story as a podcast episode for the podcast, Use Your Words. Without ever stepping foot in the classroom, seventh graders created oral histories that honor the stories of Virginia Holocaust survivors and are now accessible to anyone around the world through iTunes or Spotify. And, just as importantly, St. Michael’s seventh graders said that the project made them feel bonded to their survivor and gave them a deeper, emotional and historical understanding of the Holocaust.
Edna B. Ipson, her children and her husband Israel were some of the only 500 Jews living in Lithuania to survive the Nazi extermination there. Our student Lila takes us through the horrific and unbelievable story of Edna’s life, showing us that Edna lived her life for her children before during and after the Holocaust. Through ingenuity, luck, and sheer force of will, Edna and Israel were able to save their family from Hitler’s final solution, ultimately allowing her son Jay Ipson to move to Richmond, Virginia and co-found the Virginia Holocaust Museum.
Jay, Edna, Israel Ipson
Edna & Jay