Gold Jewelry Found Hidden In Auschwitz Death Camp Enamel Mug After More Than 71 Years

An enamel mug, part of a collection at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, has turned out to contain a secret.

Curators at the museum were recently examining some of the many items confiscated from Jews by the Nazis when they were taken to the death camp during World War II. Among of the collection of 12,000 cups, bowls, jugs, kettles and pots was an enamel mug, which turned out to have a secret compartment within.

Over the years, time has taken its toll on the mug, which has led to the fake bottom coming free, revealing that inside the secret compartment was a gold ring and necklace, hidden away in hopes of one day being worn again by their owner.

As reported by Haaretz, Hanna Kubik of the Memorial Collection said, “During the works to secure the enameled kitchenware located at the main exhibition, it turned out that one of the mugs has a double bottom.”

Kubik went on to add that the secret compartment was very well hidden, but due to the passage of time, the materials had gradually degraded, leading to the false bottom separating from the enamel mug.

It is now 71 years since the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviet Army, but Kubik says the jewelry could actually have been hidden in the mug for much longer.

“The ring [and chain] have test properties for gold 583 placed on products produced in Poland in the years 1921-1931. It is the head of a knight with the number three on the right side,” Kubik added.

Dr. Piotr MA Cywiński, the director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, explained how the enamel mug became a part of the collection at the camp. He said the Germans “incessantly lied to the Jews deported for extermination.”


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The International Business Times quoted Cywiński as saying the prisoners were told they were being resettled with work and a new life in a different location. He explained that the victims were allowed to take a little luggage with them.

“In this way, the Germans were confident that in the luggage – including clothes and items needed for life – they would find the last valuables of the deported families.”

While many were fooled by the Nazis’ lies, the discovery of the hidden compartment in the enamel mug shows that some victims were aware that their possessions would not be with them for long.

“[It] proves on the one hand 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,” Cywiński added.

As reported by Haaretz, in most cases, items like the ring and necklace found in the enamel mug will never be returned to the family, as there is no way to trace the owners.

Reportedly, the museum is planning to display the enamel mug as it was found, together with the jewelry hidden in the secret compartment. Once tests have been run and the proper documentation processed, the display will be made part of the exhibition in the museum from May 24.

[Image via Flickr by Adam Tas, cropped and resized/CC BY 2.0]