AUSCHWITZ, Poland — Consider this a “not clay but…” addendum to our story about Nazi porcelain from a few months ago. When the dirtbag fascists running Germany at the time weren’t stealing people’s labor to make tea sets, they were stealing valuables from concentration camp prisoners as well as looting invaded countries. They may have acquired hundreds of millions of dollars in gold in this way, a fact that forms the basis of the Nazi gold mystery— a fascinating story, especially if you’re a conspiracy theorist.
Workers at the Auschwitz Museum recently discovered treasures that escaped the claws of the Nazis and everyone else for more than 70 years. An enamel mug taken from one of the prisoners at the camp had a false base. Over time this base began to wear away and workers found a gold necklace and ring hidden inside. They were wrapped in a torn piece of canvas. The concealment speaks volumes and the conclusions it leads us to are painful. The curators of the museum told CNN:
“The hiding of valuable items… proves on the one hand to the awareness of the victims as to the robbery nature of the deportation, but on the other hand it shows that the Jewish families constantly had a ray of hope that these items will be required for their existence,” said Piotr Cywinski, the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Nazis lied to the Jews they deported to concentration camps, telling them that they would be relocated and given a new life somewhere else. The deportees were allowed to take a few belongings with them, so of course many people packed valuable family heirlooms. The concealment is chilling because it shows that whoever did it may have had a premonition of what was to come. Underlining the suspicion is the scrap of canvas. Not only were the jewels hidden inside a cup, the owner took the extra measure of muffling any noise they could make. If there’s one thing we can feel good about, it’s that this prisoner kept his or her valuables from going to fund the Nazi war machine.
The moral thing to do in this situation is to locate the family of the original owner and return the items to them. Sadly, the workers at the museum have no way to do that. Instead the museum will store the items “in the form reflecting the manner in which it had been hidden by the owner, as a testimony to the fate of the Jews deported to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.”
That sentence is a little confusing, but I hope it means that they’re putting the valuables back where they found them. Absent any other way of repatriating the items, this is the most solemn and respectful course of action.
What do you think about this story? Let us know in the comments.