Holocaust-era 'Shema Yisrael' pendants uncovered in Sobibor extermination camp

Three pendants bearing shema yisrael ("Hear O Israel") on one side at a picture of Moses carrying the tablets on the other were discovered.

A rusty road sign is seen outside the perimeter of a Nazi death camp in Sobibor September 18, 2014. An archaeological dig, which has been carried out since 2007, has recently revealed the location of gas chambers under a road at the Sobibor death camp, the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holo (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL / REUTERS)
A rusty road sign is seen outside the perimeter of a Nazi death camp in Sobibor September 18, 2014. An archaeological dig, which has been carried out since 2007, has recently revealed the location of gas chambers under a road at the Sobibor death camp, the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holo
(photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL / REUTERS)

Three pendants bearing the Hebrew prayer shema yisrael ("Hear O Israel") have been excavated at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Thursday. 

Excavations at Sobibor - where approximately 250,000 Jews were killed during the Holocaust - have been underway for decades now. On the second side of the pendant is a depiction of Moses and the tablets. The team was led by Yoram Haimi from IAA, Wojciech Mazurek from Poland and Ivar Schute from Holland, and was assisted by local residents. 

"Little is known about the stories behind the pendants, which are heartbreaking," said Haimi.

Depiction of Moses and the tablets of the Law on the pendant discovered in the area where women were undressed before being led to the gas chambers.  (credit: YORAM HAIMI/IAA)Depiction of Moses and the tablets of the Law on the pendant discovered in the area where women were undressed before being led to the gas chambers. (credit: YORAM HAIMI/IAA)
3.	Depiction of Moses and the tablets of the Law on the pendant found in the area where victims were undressed before being led to the gas chambers in Camp II at Sobibor.  (credit: WOJCIECH MAZUREK)3. Depiction of Moses and the tablets of the Law on the pendant found in the area where victims were undressed before being led to the gas chambers in Camp II at Sobibor. (credit: WOJCIECH MAZUREK)

One of the pendants was discovered in the remains of a building where Jews were undressed before being led to the gas chambers.  

“The personal and human aspect of the discovery of these pendants is chilling," said Eli Eskozido, Director of the IAA.

 Pendant bearing shema yisrael found at Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, January 27, 2021.  (credit: IAA) Pendant bearing shema yisrael found at Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, January 27, 2021. (credit: IAA)
The pendant discovered next to the mass grave. “To the faithful king, Hear O Israel, our God is One. Blessed be the name of the glorious king forever and ever.” Photo: Yoram Haimi, Israel Antiquities Authority The pendant revealed in the area where victims were undressed before being led to the gas  (credit: YORAM HAIMI/IAA)The pendant discovered next to the mass grave. “To the faithful king, Hear O Israel, our God is One. Blessed be the name of the glorious king forever and ever.” Photo: Yoram Haimi, Israel Antiquities Authority The pendant revealed in the area where victims were undressed before being led to the gas (credit: YORAM HAIMI/IAA)
 Pendant bearing an image of Moses carrying the tablets found at Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, January 27, 2021. (credit: IAA) Pendant bearing an image of Moses carrying the tablets found at Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, January 27, 2021. (credit: IAA)

"It has been possible to identify a kind of tradition or fashion among the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe with pendants that were inscribed with “Shema Yisrael” on one side and a depiction of Moses and the tablets of the Law on the opposite side," he said.