web analytics
October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Auschwitz Concentration Camp’

Thousands of Auschwitz Victims’ Personal Items to Go on Display

Friday, June 10th, 2016

More than 16 thousand personal items belonging to the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau, originally discovered in archaeological digs carried out in 1967 by the Communist government in the vicinity of the gas chamber and crematorium III, have now been delivered to the Auschwitz Memorial.

The objects are not only a remarkable testimony to the history of the camp and the extermination process, but also a moving personal testimony of the victims. In most cases, these are the last personal belongings of the Jews led to their death in the gas chambers upon selection at the ramp. They include thermometers, empty medicine bottles, fragments of shoes, jewelry, cutlery, watches, brushes, smoking pipes, lighters, fragments of kitchenware, buttons, pocketknives, and keys.

Auschwitz personal belongings – letters / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

Auschwitz personal belongings – letters / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

“In 1967, on the site of the former Birkenau camp, Lódz-born filmmaker Andrzej Brzozowski made a short documentary film titled ‘Archaeology,’ showing the process of the excavations near the ruins of the gas chamber and crematorium III,” Elżbieta Cajzer, head of the Museum collections related. “As a result of these works, which were shown in the video, a large number of original objects were found from the period of when the camp was still functioning. The register of the museum collections only shows a little more than 400 objects from these excavations. We were convinced, however, that there had to be much more. We launched an investigation that lasted several months, by verifying archival documentation.”

“Individually verified trails were broken; people who had been working then in the Museum were no longer there. Unfortunately, the film’s director has already died, the institutions which funded the film have changed, and the archives were silent,” said Auschwitz Museum director, Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński. “Nevertheless, we checked every lead. We could not be certain whether the results of the archaeological research had not been squandered or fragmented. After all, almost 50 years have passed; Polish institutions have undergone thorough changes after the fall of Communism. We took into account and were prepared for any eventuality.”

Auschwitz personal belongings – cup / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

Auschwitz personal belongings – cup / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

“We succeeded in making contact with the last living persons who participated in the project almost 50 years ago,” Elżbieta Cajzer said, adding, “It was, however, uncertain where the items found during the making of the film had been deposited. It turned out that they are stored in 48 cardboard boxes at one of the buildings of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Most of them have been packed the entire time in individually marked boxes, which is today very important for the process of documentation and verification of the objects’ authenticity, as they indicate the place of discovery or precise information about individual objects.”

Auschwitz personal belongings transported / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

Auschwitz personal belongings transported / Photo: Paweł Sawicki

“I had considered the discovery of such a huge collection in whole after nearly half a century as unlikely as finding the treasure of a lost Galleon,” Dr. Cywiński said. “I can only try to imagine why the lost objects were deposited in these boxes just after being dug up. The excavations were carried out in the summer of 1967, near the gas chambers and crematoria, presumably to be analyzed and studied, or perhaps someone even had the intention to write an extensive research paper on the subject. This is a unique collection in every way. A few months later in 1968, there was a political turnabout and the Communist authorities took a clearly anti-Semitic direction. Perhaps this is why they did not hurry with the implementation and closure of this project. The times then were difficult for Holocaust-related topics.”


70 Years Later, Auschwitz Inmate’s Gold Ring Found in Double Bottom Mug

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum staff found a mug with a double bottom that had jewelry hidden inside it. The mug is one of tens of thousands of enameled pieces of kitchenware looted by the Germans from people deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

“During the works to secure the enameled kitchenware located at the main exhibition, it turned out that one of the mugs has a double bottom,” Auschwitz Museum employee Hanna Kubik said. “It was very well hidden, but due to the passage of time, the materials underwent gradual degradation, and the second bottom separated from the mug.”

Auschwitz mug with gold ring / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

Auschwitz mug with gold ring / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

“Under it, among other objects, was a woman’s ring made of gold and a necklace wrapped in a piece of canvas,” Kubik added.

Auschwitz inmate’s gold chain / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

Auschwitz inmate’s gold chain / Photo credit: Miroslaw Maciaszczyk

Despite the passage of more than 70 years since the liberation of the camp, there are still cases of accidental discovery of objects hidden by the victims, museum officials say. “The Germans incessantly lied to the Jews they deported for extermination,” said museum director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński. “They told them about resettlement, work and life in a different location. They allowed the victims take with them a little luggage. In this way, the Germans were confident that in the luggage — including clothes and items needed for life — they would find the last valuables of the deported families.”

“The hiding of valuable items — which is repeatedly mentioned in the accounts of survivors, and which was the reason for the ripping and careful search of clothes and suitcases in the warehouse for looted items, the so-called ‘Kanada,’ proves on the one hand the awareness of the victims of the chance of being robbed during the deportation, but on the other hand it shows that the Jewish families still had a ray of hope that these items would be required for their livelihood,” Cywiński noted.

An X-ray of the Auschwitz mug with gold ring

An X-ray of the Auschwitz mug with gold ring

All findings are carefully documented and secured by the conservators, because they are the most recent traces of individual victims of the camp. Unfortunately, quite often the owners of these items remain anonymous, because there are no traces left on the objects to help identify them.

In the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum collection there are more than 12,000 pieces of enameled kitchenware: cups, pots, bowls, kettles, jugs, and crockery decorated with images of children playing and images of animals.


Former Auschwitz Radio Operator Charged with Accessory to Murder

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

German authorities have charged a 91-year-old woman for her role in the murder of 260,000 Jews in the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.

The woman, who has not been identified, served in the Nazi SS and worked as a radio operator for the camp’s commandant in 1944. Prosecutors plan to charge her as an accessory to murder because she aided the operation of the death camp.

The woman’s trial will come on the heels of the trial of Oskar Gröning, the so-called “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” who was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year for serving as an SS guard at Auschwitz.

Up until 2011, German authorities only prosecuted people who served in senior Nazi positions. But that year, John Demjanjuk, who had volunteered as an SS guard, was found guilty of accessory for the murder of more than 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp.

Since then, German authorities have been going after other people who could be charged as accessories to Nazi crimes. But among the 6,500 former SS members who served in Auschwitz and were still living at the time of prosecution, only 50 have been convicted, according to The Telegraph.

JNS News Service

Auschwitz Provides Tourists with Outdoor Showers to ‘Cool Down’

Monday, August 31st, 2015

How sensitive does the world have to be Jews when it comes to anything that can be associated with Holocaust?

The question has come up twice in four days, once with Hillary Clinton’s “boxcar” comment’ and now with the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp site offering tourists, including Israelis, outdoor showers to cool down from a heat wave.

Clinton’s reference to alleged Republican candidates’ promoting the idea of shipping out Mexican immigrants in “buses and boxcars” touched a raw nerve among sensitive American Jews, especially those who vote Republican.

She maintained, as reported here, that she never had the Holocaust in mind, although her defense that Jeb Bush used the term was totally out of line since he used the word to emphasize that shipping out illegal immigrants in boxcars is exactly what the United States should not do.

The showers at Auschwitz is harder to defend but illustrates the difference in mindset between the slogan among Jews “Never Forget” and the concept among others “to get over it and move on.”

It is difficult to imagine that the management at the former death camp purposely set up outdoor showers, in the midst of a heat wave, to mock Jews.

However, no one apparently realized that tourists, and not only Jews, would associate the effort to offer people a relief from the heat with the gas chambers that killed more than a million Jews, many of whom thought they were going to have their first real shower in what seemed like eternity.

On a Facebook page that posted a picture of the sprinklers, several people expressed anger while many other simply shrugged off as a “funny” coincidence.

One of the most tasteless postings was that people should “not fall for the same trick again.”

One Israel tourist told Yediot Acharonot website, “When we got off the bus I saw the sprinklers. I was in shock. I felt my stomach turn over.”

He said that when he mentioned to one of the workers at the site that the sprinkler “reminds me of the gas chambers,” she replied she was sorry.

It is not clear what she was sorry about – that the shower system was insensitive or that the tourist couldn’t get over the past.

Most estimates are that fewer than 500,000 Holocaust survivors remain alive worldwide. Their numbers are dwindling quickly, and the question of sensitivity in this age of political correctness is one that will not go away.

It all depends who is being offended. There is an egregious concern not to offend Muslim and homosexuals.

Jews are another story. And when it comes to Israel, there is not much to talk about, except, of course, for the “occupation.”

What do you think?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

British Teens Accused of Holocaust Theft at Auschwitz

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Two British teenage boys were caught stealing precious historic artifacts at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camps, Polish police said Tuesday.

The two 17-year-olds were detained Monday by police on suspicion of stealing belongings of prisoners who were inmates of the camps during the Holocaust in World War II.

They were spotted Monday afternoon lurking near a building where German Nazi guards used to store belongings confiscated from the prisoners in the camps, said a spokespersons for the museum at the site.

Both of the boys are students at the Perse School of Cambridge, England and were participating in a school history trip at the time of the incident, according to a statement by the school.

The teens “attempted to keep some items of historical importance which they had found on the ground,” the school claimed. “We understand they have explained that they picked up the items without thinking and they have apologized unreservedly for the offense they have given, and expressed real remorse for their action,” said the Perse School spokesperson.

A body search turned up a piece of spoon, a number of buttons, two pieces of glass and a fragment of a razor, which may have been stolen from the site, police said.

Both boys were questioned through an interpreter, according to regional police. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison for the offense. The spokesperson for the Perse School said the students are cooperating “fully” with the authorities.

Apparently it is not unusual for visitors to try to steal artifacts from the death camp, as horrific as that may seem to some. According to the museum curators, a Swedish man was imprisoned in 2010 for masterminding the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes Freedom) sign posted over the entry gate and which heralded the arrival of prisoners at the death camp at Auschwitz.

Hana Levi Julian

64-Year-Old Polish Jew Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Mariusz Robert Aoflko, a 64-year old Jewish attorney from Krakow who grew up thinking he was a Polish Catholic, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on Wednesday, May 30, at the Kotel, with friends and other “hidden Jews” from Poland.

Mariusz spent his entire life as a Catholic. However, 13 years ago, right before his mother passed away, she told him something that turned his whole world upside down: he is a Jew, and a Kohen.

This week, Mariusz (who now goes by the name of Moshe) is visiting Israel for the first time and this morning celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel, 13 years after the secret, which he calls “his rebirth,” was revealed.

It turns out that both of Mariusz’s parents were born to Jewish families who perished in Auschwitz. After the war, the fear of being Jewish in Poland led his parents to hide their religion and to live as Polish Catholics.

After learning his true identity, Mariusz was in complete shock, but slowly, over the years, he decided he wanted to live a Jewish life. He contacted Shavei Israel’s emissary in Krakow, Rabbi Boaz Pash, and became involved with the Jewish community in Krakow.

Last month, he met Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, at the entrance of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and told him his story. “I was deeply moved,” Freund said, adding, “I told him that since 13 years have passed since he found out he was a Jew, it is an appropriate time for him to have a Bar Mitzvah.” Freund then offered to arrange the event at the Kotel, all paid for by the organization.

“By embarking on this journey into my heritage, step by step, it all starts to become clear to me,” said Mariusz. “I am not doing this to prove anything to anyone. All I ask is to embrace the truth about my family and regain the lost identity that was hidden from me for decades.”

Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Jews who to this day are either hiding their identities or simply unaware of their family heritage. In recent years, a growing number of such people, popularly known as the “Hidden Jews of Poland,” have begun to return to Judaism and to the Jewish people.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, and the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China.

Shavei Israel currently has two full-time emissaries in Poland, located in Krakow and Katowice.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/64-year-old-polish-jew-celebrates-bar-mitzvah-at-the-kotel/2013/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: