As a Noosa wedding celebrant, I’m privileged to see many big, extravagant weddings with fabulous clothes, incredible styling and ritzy receptions. But sometimes it’s good to have a reality check. To look back to a different age when times were harder.
So I love the amazing and inspirational story behind the attached wedding picture. The bride, Lilly Lax, was in the Bergen Belsen Displaced Persons’ Camp in 1946 just after the war. As Jews, she and her fiancé Ludwig Friedman had both survived unimaginable horrors in various concentration camps. Many of their family members, including Lilly’s father and brothers had been murdered by the Nazis.
Amid the poor and chaotic conditions of the Camp, Lilly still dreamt of having a wonderful wedding, complete with a beautiful white gown. But there was one problem: there were no dress shops, no dress designers, no dress fabrics in such camps. Indeed, there wasn’t any money for such luxuries.
But the solution literally dropped in from the sky! Ludwig traded his food rations to a German ex-pilot for his parachute. Lilly’s friend Miriam, a seamstress, made the simple, long-sleeved gown using the silk panels from the parachute.
Lilly and Ludwig were married on January 27, 1946. Afterwards, up to 20 other Camp brides ‘borrowed’ Lilly’s dress for their own weddings.
In 1948, the couple were allowed to emigrate to America. Lilly kept the dress in a closet for several decades before her niece, a volunteer at the Holocaust Museum in Washington arranged to have it displayed there. Later, in 2007, the gown was relocated to the museum at the site of the Bergen Belsen camp where it can be seen today.
Lilly’s triumph over terrible adversity and the historical significance of her parachute dress remind us that, even in the midst of a nightmare, a dream can come true.