TIME Holocaust

Thousands of Holocaust Victims’ Personal Items Discovered Decades Later

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

The items had been unknowingly stored in cardboard boxes at the Polish Academy of Sciences for nearly 50 years

More than 16,000 personal items belonging to victims of the Holocaust were recovered after researchers discovered they had been unknowingly stored in cardboard boxes at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The belongings—all previously owned by victims of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland—were originally excavated near one of the camp’s gas chambers and crematoriums in 1967, NBC reports. In a news release Tuesday, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum described the items, including thermometers, jewelry, tobacco pipes and buttons, as a “moving personal testimony of the victims.” The items were often left near gas chambers as Jews were led to their death.

The museum’s researchers spent several months searching for the objects, after becoming convinced that there must be more than the approximately 400 items that had previously been recovered. The investigation eventually led to a building at the Polish Academy.

“I had considered the discovery of such a huge collection in whole after nearly half a century as unlikely as finding the treasure of the lost Galleon. I can only try to imagine why the lost objects were deposited in these boxes just after digging up,” museum director Piotr M.A. Cywiński said in a news release.

The items were transported to the museum on June 3, and will be documented and preserved.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team