A glass container containing the preserved tattoos that an Auschwitz survivor had cut out of her arm and removed from her mother after her death, features in a photo in a new exhibition that opened in London on Friday.
Kitty Hart-Moxon, 97, told the Guardian newspaper that she was working as a nurse and radiographer in postwar Britain when she realized that the short sleeves of her uniform exposed her tattoo from the Nazi camp.
When a doctor remarked that he assumed that the tattoo was a boyfriend’s phone number she couldn’t remember, the then-25-year-old Hart-Moxon decided to remove the number which was marked onto her forearm by the Nazis at the concentration camp.
“I knew a plastic surgeon, and I asked him to take it out. I’d had enough of the silly questions and whispering, and of people not wanting to know the truth. I just wanted to get rid of it to stop all that: the numbers had become a burden,” she said in an interview.
After her mother died, Hart-Moxon asked for her tattoo to be removed too.
“My number was 39934 with a little triangle at the bottom, and my mother’s was 39933,” she told the Guardian. “I thought it is better to remove it, and put it in a specimen jar. It will be there forever, whereas I will be gone.”
“It was the story of my life, wasn’t it? And I don’t think anybody else has got theirs because most people died with them. But I thought it will now be there for ever. It’s part of history. It’s important,” she told the newspaper.
Hart-Moxon said that it was immediately clear to her that she would display the tattoos when asked to choose a single object that symbolized the horrors she suffered for “Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors” at the Imperial War Museum in London, which features photos of over 50 Holocaust survivors and their relatives photographed in Spring 2021.
Hart-Moxon was born in Bielsko in Poland, the second child of liberal Jews Karol Felix and his wife Lola Rosa Felix. In a 2010 interview, she said she had no awareness of antisemitism until as a schoolgirl, she and her Jewish swimming team had stones thrown at them during a competition.
Following the Nazi invasion, her family fled to Lublin, escaping with forged documents before they could be put into the ghetto, according to a profile by the UK’s Holocaust Education Trust.
Pretending to be Polish forced laborers, Hart-Moxon and her mother were betrayed and captured and received a death sentence which was then commuted to imprisonment at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
After a year and a half, the two were sent to a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen near Wrocław before they were sent on a death march to another labor camp. The two were then sent to Bergen-Belsen, from where they were liberated by American troops in April 1945. In 1946, she and her mother received permits to settle in the UK.
Hart-Moxon’s father was murdered in the Holocaust and her brother was killed in action. Thirty members of her relatives were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Hart-Moxon now works as an educational campaigner and has told her story in a number of books and documentaries.