Society

Auschwitz Museum Staff Find Jewelry Concealed In Mug

| by Jordan Smith
Ring and necklaceRing and necklace

Staff at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland uncovered jewelry hidden under a false bottom of a mug.

The mug was part of the museum’s collection of around 12,000 cups, plates and bowls taken from Jewish prisoners exterminated at the camp between 1940 and 1945, according to media reports.

“It’s highly probable the mug belonged to a Jewish person who was brought to Auschwitz for extermination,” museum employee Pawel Sawicki told The Associated Press. “The find shows the person was aware the deportation could mean robbery, but also hoped the items could be useful in the future.”

The find included a woman’s gold ring and a gold necklace.

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An estimated 1.1 million Jews, and more than 100,000 other prisoners, were killed at Auschwitz during World War II by the Nazis, BBC reports.

When the Jews were rounded up, Nazi soldiers allowed them to bring luggage to the death camps, enabling the Nazis to seize valuables after the prisoners were killed.

“It turned out that one of the mugs has a double bottom,” added Hanna Kubik, another museum worker, according to BBC. “It was very well hidden; however, due to the passage of time, the materials underwent gradual degradation, and the second bottom separated from the mug.”

It is unlikely the original owner will be found. There is no identifiable mark of ownership on the ring or necklace, although staff believe they were made in Poland between 1921 and 1931.

Lily Ebert, a Jew who was born in Hungary and sent to Auschwitz with her family, spoke several years ago about how she managed to keep her valuable gold pendant safe.

“My brother took my mother's [jewelry], a diamond ring and my pendant, and put it in the heel of my mother's shoe," Ebert told the Jewish Chronicle in 2001. "He was then taken away to a forced [labor] camp."

"From the ghetto, we were taken in cattle trucks - five terrible days with little food or water,"she continued. "You could not sleep or move. On the last day my mother said to me: 'Maybe we should swap shoes.'"

The family was separated when they arrived at Auschwitz, with her mother, brother and one sister being sent to the gas chambers.

Ebert managed to keep the jewelry concealed in her shoe during her captivity, even hiding it in her bread ration after the heels began to wear down.

Sources: The Associated Press via ABC News, BBC, Jewish Chronicle / Photo credit: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum/BBC

Should the jewelry remain in the museum's collection?
Yes - 88%
Yes - 13%