Items Snatched From Jews By Nazis Discovered In Poland

  • Personal items of victims of Nazi death camp Auschwitz found
  • Initially discovered by archaeologists in Auschwitz ruins in 1967
  • Boxed up at Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw for 50 years
  • The 16,000 long-lost objects include letters, jewellery and watches

Thousands of personal items belonging to Jews murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz have been recovered, decades after being stored away and forgotten in cardboard boxes. The 16,000 long-lost objects, which include jewellery, watches, brushes, tobacco pipes, lighters, fragments of kitchenware, buttons, Pocketknives and keys, were first discovered in 1967 by archeologists excavating the ruins of the extermination camp’s gas chamber and crematorium III.


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They were then put into 48 cardboard boxes and stored at the Polish Academy of Sciences in the Polish capital Warsaw, where they remained forgotten for over 50 years. But now after months of searching, staff at the former Nazi death camp have finally managed to track them down.

Auschwitz museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told MailOnline: ‘There is almost no personal information on the objects, yet the fact that they were found near the ruins of gas chamber and crematorium III indicates that they belonged to Jews murdered by the German Nazi in the gas chambers.

‘These people were told that they were being resettled and they took their personal belongings with them.

‘The items found were most probably things which they had in their pockets when they were entering the undressing room of the gas chamber.

‘There are some Hungarian, some Hebrew and Polish inscriptions found on some of the objects.’

Auschwitz was set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and the camp quickly became a major site for Hitler’s crazed Final Solution. Between 1942 and late 1944, tens of thousands of Jews were delivered to the camp’s horrific gas chambers from across German-occupied Europe.

Upon arrival, they were made to line up while SS monsters divided them into two groups – those who were fit for work and those who were not. Those deemed unfit were taken straight to the gas chambers and exterminated. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them were Jewish.

Gas Chamber and Crematorium III, where the latest discoveries were originally found, was put into operation in the summer of 1943. The gas chamber was an underground room covered by a reinforced concrete roof and a layer of dirt. Deadly Zyklon-B gas in the form of pellets was poured through a hole in the roof.

The bodies were then taken by lift up to the ground floor were there were five large ovens and burnt. The building was blown up by fleeing Nazis in January 1945 just days before the Red Army liberated the camp.

Auschwitz Museum director Piotr Cywinski said: ‘The objects found during the works are not only a remarkable testimony to the history of the camp and the extermination conducted by the Germans, but also a moving personal testimony of the victims.

‘In most cases, these are the last personal belongings of the Jews led to death in the gas chambers upon selection at the ramp.’

Museum staff were put onto the trail of the thousands of personal belongings after viewing an old documentary about the excavations carried out in 1967.

Mr Cywinski added: ‘I had considered the discovery of such a huge collection in whole after nearly half a century as unlikely as finding the treasure of the lost Galleon.

‘I can only try to imagine why the lost objects were deposited in these boxes just after digging up.

‘The excavations were carried out in the summer of 1967, near the gas chambers and crematoria.

‘Presumably, they were supposed to be analysed and studied, or perhaps someone even had the intention to write an extensive research paper on the subject.

‘The excavations were carried out in the summer of 1967, near the gas chambers and crematoria.

‘Presumably, they were supposed to be analysed 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. Meanwhile, a few months later, there was a political turnabout in 1968 and the communist authority took a clearly anti-Semitic course.

‘Perhaps, that is why they did not hurry with the implementation and closure of this project. The times then were difficult for topics related to the Holocaust.’

Now museum staff will begin the complicated task of cataloguing the collection and trying to identify who the possessions originally belonged to. Auschwitz Museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told MailOnline: ‘It will take us a long time to research the whole collection.

‘Right know we will start a process of documenting and researching the items and checking their state of preservation. Many of them will need conservation.

‘In terms of identifying the owners in most cases it will not be possible, since there are almost no traces which can lead us to an individual person. Yet, maybe something will be found during the documentation process.’