Knives, forks, scissors, parts of shoes and tools were found in a hiding place beneath a chimney at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland.
The tools were found in Block 17 where prisoners worked full-time jobs. The block is undergoing renovations by the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism in preparation for a new exhibition opening soon.
During the renovations in April, workers exposed a chimney flue and found the hidden objects. Each one was recovered and documented before being handed over to the Auschwitz Museum.
The National Fund’s structural consultant, master builder Ing. Johannes Hofmeister, believes that the chimney was intentionally used to hide the items as the building housed chimney sweeps. People with special manual skills were likely housed in Block 17, according to a press release by the National Fund.
Survivor's testimonies about the building indicate that there were a number of workshops in the cellar.
It is still too early to say why these tools were hidden and what they were used for. It may be that the tools were used to make and repair clothes, locksmithing, trade with other prisoners or even as preparation for an escape.
The work being carried out by the National Fund began in September 2019. All additions made to the building after the war were demolished and the entire building is undergoing structural reinforcement. As the additions were destroyed, original elements that were previously unknown were revealed, requiring adaptations to the renovation plans.