Auschwitz museum gets baton of Nazi death camp ‘kapo’
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Auschwitz museum gets baton of Nazi death camp ‘kapo’

Conductor’s tool belonged to Franciszek Nierychlo, a Polish prisoner who camp survivors described as cruel and cooperative with the Germans

This photo provided on October 24, 2018, by the Museum of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau, shoes the wood-and-ivory baton of Franciszek Nierychlo, Auschwitz prisoner and controversial organizer and first conductor of the inmates' orchestra, in Oswiecim, Poland.  (Museum of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau/Marcin Inglot via AP)
This photo provided on October 24, 2018, by the Museum of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau, shoes the wood-and-ivory baton of Franciszek Nierychlo, Auschwitz prisoner and controversial organizer and first conductor of the inmates' orchestra, in Oswiecim, Poland. (Museum of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau/Marcin Inglot via AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Auschwitz museum has obtained a new relic from the death camp that Nazi Germany operated during World War II: the baton of the inmate orchestra’s conductor.

The 32-centimeter (13-inch) wood-and-ivory baton with a plaque reading “F. Nierychlo 1940 (A)” was obtained from a private individual, Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum spokesman Bartosz Bartyzel said Wednesday.

Franciszek Nierychlo, a postal clerk and a musician, was brought to Auschwitz in June 1940 in a transport of Polish prisoners. The Nazis made him the supervising “kapo” in the camp kitchen. According to the museum, survivors who gave testimony after the war described him as cruel and cooperative with the Germans.

The orchestra that Nierychlo organized on Nazi orders played lively tunes while Auschwitz inmates were maltreated.

The inmates were ordered to march in time to the music after hours of arduous toil. Survivors said the musicians received more food and had clean clothes.

This photo provided on October 24, 2018, by the Museum of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau, shoes the wood-and-ivory baton of Franciszek Nierychlo, Auschwitz prisoner and controversial organizer and first conductor of the inmates’ orchestra, in Oswiecim, Poland. (Museum of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz Birkenau/Marcin Inglot via AP)

“The camp orchestra was controversial to the inmates,'” museum director Piotr M. A. Cywinski said in a statement about the baton acquisition.

“On one hand, it helped many times to save outstanding musicians from the hardest work and was a source of emotional experience during rehearsals and Sunday concerts,” Cywinski said. “On the other hand, it was an element of humiliation and terror.”

Nierychlo was released in 1944, probably after signing the “Volksliste,” a declaration of being of German origin, the museum said.

After the war, he served time in prison for his actions at Auschwitz. He later played the oboe at the Operetta House in Lodz. He died in 1977.

During 1940-45, some 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau’s gas chambers or from hunger, diseases and forced labor.

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