Auschwitz artifacts to be unveiled on Holocaust Memorial Day

Items include jewelry, watches, brushes, keys, buttons and other "unusual, symbolic traces of the victims."

January 23, 2017 10:46
1 minute read.
Auschwitz artifacts

Personal items discovered in 1967 around the Auschwitz gas chambers and crematoria. . (photo credit: AUSCHWITZ MUSEUM)

Artifacts and personal items originally discovered in 1967 during excavations around the Auschwitz III crematorium and gas chamber are finally being displayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, according to the museum’s official website. The exhibitions have been arranged to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 2017.

The items include jewelry, watches, brushes, keys, empty medicine and perfume bottles, buttons and other personal objects.

“These items are extraordinary documents of extermination carried out in the camp by the Germans,” said Alicja Wojcik, head of exhibitions at the Auschwitz memorial.

“Above all, [they are] a moving personal testimony of the victims. In most cases, these were the last personal belongings retained by the Jews who were referred immediately after selection at the ramp to death in the gas chambers.”

About 16,000 such items were discovered in 1967, but only a few were displayed in museums. The rest were stored outside the memorial for “unknown reasons,” according to Auschwitz. The documentary Archaeology by Andrzej Brzozowski depicted the excavation work done in 1967, showing a large number of objects missing from the museum.

This spurred a search for the items, which were eventually found in 48 boxes in the Polish Academy of Sciences buildings.

Fortunately, the items had been packed individually and marked with the location of their discovery.

The memorial estimates that 1.1 million people were murdered over five years in the Auschwitz death camp, around 1 million of whom were Jews.

“The Jews who were rushed into the gas chambers, until the very last moment of their lives, tried to retain the bits and pieces of their loved ones and close family, including things necessary for daily life,” the memorial said. “These unusual, symbolic traces of the victims can be seen at the exhibition.”

The Auschwitz memorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and will host the exhibition along with UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris.

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