Auschwitz mug reveals jewelry hidden for more than 70 years

Thu May 19, 2016 1:03pm EDT
 
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OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) - Staff at the Auschwitz museum have uncovered jewelry secretly hidden in an enamel mug since the liberation of the wartime Nazi death camp in 1945.

The mug, one of thousands of kitchenware items seized by Nazi guards from those deported to the camp in southern Poland during World War II, was found to have an inside double bottom, under which a gold ring and necklace wrapped in a piece of canvas were hidden.

The objects, believed to have been made in Poland in between 1921 and 1931, were discovered during maintenance of the museum's enameled kitchenware exhibits.

"When I picked up this mug, it turned out that there were hidden objects inside," museum staffer Hanna Kubik said.

"With time, the fake bottom had detached from the cup, so it was clearly visible that inside there was a bundle and you could see a fragment of the chain and a ring".

Between 1940 and 1945, about 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland.

Those sent there had belongings taken away upon arrival, many of which are on display today.

Many hid valuables inside, items the museum says are still being discovered years later. However, their owners often remain anonymous because of the lack of traces on the objects to identify them.

The museum, which says it has more than 12,000-enamelled kitchen items -- like cups, pots, bowls, kettles, jugs -- in its memorials collection, said the jewelry would now be stored in "in the form reflecting the manner in which it had been hidden by the owner."

(Reporting by Janusz Chmielweski, Writing By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

 
A box with a gold ring and a necklace wrapped in a piece of canvas found hidden in a mug is pictured at the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, Poland May 12, 2016. Marcin Inglot/Courtesy of Auschwitz Memorial/Handout via REUTERS