Staff at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum made a poignant discovery when they found jewellery hidden behind the false bottom of a mug.
Work was being carried out to preserve some of the 12,000 pieces of enamelled kitchenware from the death camp in German-occupied Poland, when the astonishing discovery was made.
Hanna Kubik, from the Memorial Collections, explained: “During the works to secure the enamelled kitchenware located at the main exhibition, it turned out that one of the mugs has a double bottom. 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.
“Under it, among others was a woman’s ring made of gold and a necklace wrapped in a piece of canvas.
“The ring as well as the chain have test properties for gold 583 placed on products produced in Poland in the years 1921-1931. It is the head of a knight with the number three on the right side.
“For detailed confirmation of the contents of the findings, the object was subjected to specialist tests, among others x-ray pictures, and a test using the XRF method, which proved the presence of the metals: copper, gold and silver.”
Although it’s more than 70 years since the camp was liberated, new items are still occasionally discovered at the site.
Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, said: “The Germans incessantly lied to the Jews deported for extermination. They were told about resettlement, work and life in a different location.
“They allowed the victims take with them little luggage. In this way, the Germans were confident that in the luggage - including clothes and items needed for life - they would find the last valuables of the deported families.
“The hiding of valuable items - repeatedly mentioned in the accounts of survivors, and which was the reason for ripping and careful search of clothes and suitcases in the warehouse for looted items – so-called “Kanada” – proves on the one hand to the awareness of the victims as to the robbery nature of the deportation, but on the other hand it shows that the Jewish families constantly had a ray of hope that these items will be required for their existence.”
The jewellery will now be stored along with the mug “as a testimony to the fate of the Jews deported to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp”.
More than one million people are estimated to have been murdered at the camp.
Clarification: This article has been amended to clarify that Auschwitz was a death camp in German-occupied Poland.