WARSAW, Poland — A porcelain Mickey Mouse figurine that once belonged to a child the Nazis deported to the Auschwitz death camp has been rediscovered after more than 70 years, a local foundation told AFP on Friday.
“It’s a sad object because it reminds us of a child who was probably gassed to death in the camp,” Agnieszka Molenda, who runs the Foundation of Memory Sites near Auschwitz-Birkenau (FPMP), told AFP.
“Farmers found the figurine after the war near the banks of the Vistula River over a kilometer from the camp and then stored it along side other smaller items that we recently received,” she said.
Set up in 2013 by private collectors with a passion for local history, the foundation gathers items related to the death camp and its annexes that covered some 40 square kilometers (15.4 square miles).
Working with the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum on the site of the former Nazi death camp in Osciecim, southern Poland, the foundation has collected thousands of items kept in private homes since the war.
“We’ll probably never know who the figurine belonged to,” Molenda added.
“Experts told us that it was manufactured in Germany in the 1930s, without a Disney copyright.
“It is a model that was sold in Germany between 1929 and 1932 and was exported in large numbers to neighboring European countries.”
The donor, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Molenda that her grandfather dug up the figurine while working in a field after the war.
He also found coins from the Nazi-run Jewish ghetto in the city of Lodz and some small brushes that he stored in the attic of his house.
One million European Jews died at the camp set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940-1945.
More than 100,000 others including non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and anti-Nazi resistance fighters also died there, according to the museum.
An estimated 232,000 of Auschwitz victims were children.