WARSAW, Poland — A tiny carved wooden clog that once belonged to a woman the Nazis deported to the Auschwitz death camp has been rediscovered after more than 70 years, a local foundation told AFP on Thursday.
Smaller than a matchstick, the charm “is a real piece of art from Auschwitz,” said Agnieszka Molenda, who runs the Foundation of Memory Sites near Auschwitz-Birkenau (FPMP).
“The tiny carved clog is just seven millimeters (0.28 inches) long and hangs on a small chain, indicating that a prisoner wore it as jewelry,” she said, adding that its origin and owner remain a mystery.
Auschwitz prisoners were banned from making or wearing any such items and according to Molenda the charm could have been a tiny symbol of resistance.
It was found this month during maintenance work in the attic of a building of the Budy-Bor Auschwitz subcamp, near the main death camp set up by Nazi Germany during World War II in occupied Poland.
The building was the site of a bloody massacre on October 5, 1942, when camp guards bludgeoned to death 90 French-Jewish female prisoners.
“The clog was most likely hidden between the bricks of wall of the attic where prisoners slept and could have belonged to one of the victims of the massacre,” Molenda told AFP.
Set up in 2013 by private collectors with a passion for local history, the FPMP gathers items related to the death camp and its nearby subcamps that covered some 40 square kilometres (15 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.
In September, it unveiled a porcelain Mickey Mouse figurine that once belonged to a child the Nazis deported to Auschwitz.
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.