The Pendant Found at Nazi Death Camp With Possible Ties To Anne Frank

As reported previously by Matzav.com, researchers say a recent Nazi death camp excavation has turned up personal mementos from victims, including a teenager’s triangular pendant that closely resembles one that belonged to Anne Frank.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said in a statement Sunday that Jewish victims’ personal belongings, including the pendant, were unearthed at the former Sobibor death camp in Poland along the notorious “Pathway to Heaven” – an area where the victims were forced to shed their clothes and keepsakes on the way to the gas chambers.

Yad Vashem said archaeologists found a watch, a Magen David necklace and a charm etched with an image of Moshe holding the Aseres Hadibros.

They also found the pendant, a charm engraved with the Hebrew words “Mazal Tov” along with a date, “July 3, 1929,” and location, “Frankfurt A.M.”

Using an online deportation database, Yad Vashem said it was able to determine that the charm may have belonged to Karoline Cohn, a Jewish girl with that birth date and home town. Researchers are now trying to determine whether Cohn, who would have been 14 at the time, may have ties to Frank, who was also born in Frankfurt in 1929.

Yad Vashem said the pendants – one belonging to Frank and one believed to have belonged to Cohn – are the only two of that kind known to historians.

“The significance of the research and findings at Sobibor grows with every passing season of excavation,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yoram Haimi said in the statement. “Every time we dig, we reveal another part of the camp, find more personal items, and expand our knowledge about the camp. In spite of attempts by the Nazis and their collaborators to erase traces of their crimes, as well as the effects of forestation and time, we enhance our understanding of the history previously known to us only through survivor testimonies. In this way, we ensure that the memory of the people killed there will never be forgotten.

“This pendant demonstrates once again the importance of archaeological research of former Nazi death camp sites. The moving story of Karoline Cohn is symbolic of the shared fate of the Jews murdered in the camp. It is important to tell the story, so that we never forget.”

The Sobibor death camp, which was built in 1942 as part of the Aktion Reinhard program, was hidden outside the nearby village of Sobibor by barbed-wire fences and foliage, according to Yad Vashem.

Jews were transported there by train, and most of them were immediately herded into an area where they were told to remove their clothes and valuables before being forced into the gas chambers.

“The gas chambers were sealed once the maximum potential of victims were inside,” according to research on Sobibor from Yad Vashem. “Poisonous gas was then piped in. Within 20-30 minutes, all those inside were dead. Jewish work teams – known as Sonderkommando – removed the bodies, pulled out any gold teeth, and buried the dead.”

Some 250,000 Jews are estimated to have been killed at Sobibor.

The extermination camp was torn down in a 1943 uprising.

Since 2007, the Israel Antiquities Authority, with help from Yad Vashem, has been carrying out excavations at Sobibor.

Archaeologists uncovered a building near the former “Pathway to Heaven” and, in the building’s foundation, discovered some of the victims’ personal belongings, Yad Vashem said Sunday in the statement.

Researchers believe that the victims may have dropped the items – including the triangular pendant – which fell through the building’s floorboards to the ground, where they were buried for decades.

Yad Vashem said research suggests “a possible familial connection between Frank and Cohn,” the teenage girl believed to have owned the recently recovered pendant.

According to the statement from Yad Vashem:

“Dr. Joel Zissenwein, Director of the Deportations Database Project, found that Cohn, born on July 3, 1929, was deported from Frankfurt to Minsk on November 11, 1941. While it is not known if Cohn survived the harsh conditions in the Minsk ghetto, her pendant reached Sobibór sometime between November 1941 and September 1943, when the ghetto was liquidated and the 2,000 Jewish prisoners interned there were deported to the death camp. There, along the path to the gas chambers of Sobibór, the pendant belonging to 14-year-old Karoline Cohn was taken, dropped, and remained buried in the ground for over 70 years.”

“These recent findings from the excavations at Sobibor constitute an important contribution to the documentation and commemoration of the Holocaust, and help us to better understand what happened at Sobibor, both in terms of the camp’s function and also from the point of view of the victims,” Davi Dreifuss, with Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, said in the statement.



Pendant Found in Nazi Death Camp Ruins May Have Anne Frank Link

Sometime in September 1943, Karoline Cohn undressed and waited for her hair to be shaved at a hut at Sobibor, the Nazi extermination camp, in eastern Poland.

Then, as Karoline, 14, walked the final steps to the gas chambers, most likely unaware that she was about to be killed, she dropped a pendant engraved with the words “good luck” in Hebrew through the wooden floorboards.

That, at least, is a leading theory to explain the pendant, which was discovered more than 70 years later by archaeologists at the site of the extermination camp, one of the most brutal in Hitler’s killing apparatus. Tantalizingly, the pendant — and Karoline — may also have a link to Anne Frank, the young diarist who has become a powerful symbol of the Holocaust.

“There, along the path to the gas chambers of Sobibor, the pendant belonging to 14-year-old Karoline Cohn was taken, dropped and remained buried in the ground for over 70 years,” said Joel Zisenwine, director of the Deportations Database Project at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, which announced the discovery last weekend.

Recalling Anne Frank, as Icon and Human Being NOV. 4, 2014
Ten years ago, archaeologists began excavating the Sobibor death camp, where an estimated 250,000 Jews were killed from April 1942 to October 1943. Leading the excavation team was Yoram Haimi, 55, who has overseen excavations across Israel and who lost two uncles at Sobibor.

Mr. Haimi said in a phone interview from Jerusalem that during excavations, he and his team helped uncover the remains of the camp, which the Nazis tried to destroy and conceal after a successful 1943 uprising by Jewish prisoners. (The revolt, during which 365 prisoners escaped, inspired the French director Claude Lanzmann’s celebrated documentary “Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.”)

In 2014, the team unearthed the gas chambers, whose foundations the Nazis had covered with asphalt to make the site look like a road. Over a decade, the team has found thousands of personal items belonging to Jewish prisoners, including wedding bands, women’s watches, hairpins and children’s pendants.

Two months ago, Mr. Haimi said, the archaeologists came upon a small and distinctive-looking triangular pendant engraved with the words “Mazel tov” — the traditional Jewish offer of congratulations, which means “good luck.” Also engraved on the pendant was a birthday — July 3, 1929, above the word Frankfurt — and, on the reverse side, the Hebrew letter “hay,” which is used to signify the name of God, with three triangular stars of David surrounding it.

After scouring tens of thousands of names in a Yad Vashem online deportation database and searching the list of Jews who had been deported from Frankfurt to ghettos or extermination camps, Mr. Haimi said that only one name and city matched the birthday: Karoline, who was born in Frankfurt on July 3, 1929.

When the archaeologists researched pendants of that era, he said, they were struck by something else: the pendant found at Sobibor was nearly identical to one that had belonged to Frank, who was also born in Frankfurt. That pendant was exhibited in the 1980s, Mr. Haimi said, and had since been kept by a relative of Frank’s in a safe in Basel, Switzerland.

Objects with links to Frank have gained in value in recent years. In November, an autographed poem written by her in a “friendship book” when she lived in Amsterdam fetched about $148,000 at an auction in the Dutch city of Haarlem, a price that reflected the hold she continues to exert on the global imagination.

Mr. Haimi said the charm found in Sobibor differed in one respect from the one belonging to Frank: the date on the pendants was different by a matter of three weeks.

Mr. Haimi said he had determined from the database that Karoline was deported to the Minsk ghetto, in Belarus, from Frankfurt on Nov. 11, 1941. But he said it was not clear if she had survived the harsh conditions of the ghetto or had been deported to Sobibor in September 1943, when the ghetto was shut down by the Nazis and 2,000 Jewish prisoners interned there were deported to their deaths elsewhere.

The discovery offered clues but also raised several questions: Was Karoline a close friend or relative of Frank’s? Was she the one who dropped the pendant through the floorboards? Or was it a relative, perhaps her mother, who had clung to it after Karoline was killed? In hope of finding the answer, the memorial has appealed to family members of the girls to come forward.

Mr. Haimi said that on Tuesday, an 88-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor, who was born in Frankfurt, came forward, saying that she, too, owned a pendant resembling the one linked to Karoline and had kept it for eight decades. He said he hoped she could help solve the mystery.

Havi Dreifuss, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University and senior researcher at Yad Vashem, said finding objects like the pendant had great historical value as they offered powerful evidence of the crimes the Nazis had tried to erase.

“The moving story of Karoline Cohn is important, as every small story we discover like Karoline’s is a story of the camp and its history,” Mr. Haimi said.

He added, “Everyone had forgotten this girl, but now no one will forget.”


Pendant possibly tied to Anne Frank found at Nazi death camp

Researchers say a recent Nazi death camp excavation has turned up a teenager's triangular pendant that closely resembles one that belonged to Anne Frank.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said in a statement Sunday that Jewish victims' personal belongings, including the pendant, were unearthed at the former Sobibor death camp in Poland along the notorious "Pathway to Heaven" - an area where the victims were forced to shed their clothes and keepsakes on the way to the gas chambers.

Yad Vashem said archaeologists found the pendant, a charm engraved with the Hebrew words "Mazal Tov" along with a date, "July 3, 1929," and location, "Frankfurt A.M."

Using an online deportation database, Yad Vashem said it was able to determine that the charm may have belonged to Karoline Cohn, a Jewish girl with that birth date and home town. Researchers are now trying to determine whether Cohn, who would have been 14 at the time, may have ties to Frank, who was also born in Frankfurt in 1929.

Yad Vashem said the pendants - one belonging to Frank and one believed to have belonged to Cohn - are the only two of that kind known to historians.

The Sobibor death camp, which was built in 1942 as part of the Aktion Reinhard program, was hidden outside the nearby village of Sobibor by barbed-wire fences and foliage, according to Yad Vashem.

Jews were transported there by train, and most of them were immediately herded into an area where they were told to remove their clothes and valuables before being forced into the gas chambers.

Some 250,000 Jews are estimated to have been killed at Sobibor.

The extermination camp was torn down in a 1943 uprising. Since 2007, the Israel Antiquities Authority, with help from Yad Vashem, has been carrying out excavations at Sobibor.

Yad Vashem said research suggests "a possible familial connection between Frank and Cohn," the teenage girl believed to have owned the recently recovered pendant.

According to the statement from Yad Vashem:

"Dr. Joel Zissenwein, Director of the Deportations Database Project, found that Cohn, born on July 3, 1929, was deported from Frankfurt to Minsk on November 11, 1941. While it is not known if Cohn survived the harsh conditions in the Minsk ghetto, her pendant reached Sobibor sometime between November 1941 and September 1943, when the ghetto was liquidated and the 2,000 Jewish prisoners interned there were deported to the death camp. There, along the path to the gas chambers of Sobibor, the pendant belonging to 14-year-old Karoline Cohn was taken, dropped, and remained buried in the ground for over 70 years."

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