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Handwritten inscriptions found inside child Holocaust victims’ shoes

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Staff from the Auschwitz Memorial found several handwritten inscriptions inside children’s shoes while doing conservation work. The shoes belonged to children murdered in the gas chambers at the Nazi death camp

By ILANIT CHERNICK

In an emotional find, staff from the Auschwitz Memorial found several handwritten inscriptions inside children’s shoes while doing conservation work on shoes belonging to victims of the notorious death and concentration camp.

One of the handwritten inscriptions found bore the child’s first and last name, and also marked the transport and the child’s registration number on the transport list.

His name was Amos Steinberg and he was born on June 26, 1938 in Prague. 

According to the inscription and subsequent records found, on August 10, 1942, four-year-old Amos was incarcerated along with his parents Ludwig and Ida in the Theresienstadt Ghetto near Prague. They were all deported to Auschwitz.

 “From surviving documents, it follows that the mother and her son were deported to Auschwitz in the same transport on 4 October 1944,” explained Hanna Kubik of the Auschwitz Museum Collections. “It is likely that they were both murdered in the gas chamber after selection.” 

Kubik said the team have surmised that it was Amos’s mother, Ida, who most likely ensured that her child’s shoe was signed. 

“The father was deported in another transport,” she continued. “We know that he was transferred from Auschwitz to Dachau on October 10, 1944. He was liberated in the Kaufering sub-camp.”

In total, Kubik said, the Nazis transferred 24 transports of over 46,000 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto to Auschwitz. About 18,000 of them were placed in a special family camp in section BIIb of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

Staff also came across another shoe that was found with documents written in Hungarian. 

“We already have shoes with such findings in our collections, but these are mainly newspapers, which were often used as insoles or additional insulation,” Kubik pointed out. “This find is precious and interesting because the documents have been preserved in good condition, and they contain dates, names of the persons concerned and handwritten captions. 

“They date back to 1941 and 1942,” she added.

According to Kubik, these documents belonged to people probably living in Munkacs and Budapest. 

“Some of them are official documents, a fragment of a brochure and a piece of paper with a name,” she said. “The names Ackermann, Brávermann and Beinhorn appear in the find.” 

She suspected that they were probably deported to Auschwitz in the spring or summer of 1944 during the extermination of Hungarian Jews. 

“I hope that more in-depth research will allow us to determine the details of the individuals,” she said, emphasizing that the discovered documents “will be preserved and sent to the Collection along with the shoe.”

Kubik explained that the first transports of Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz on April 28 and 29, 1944 from the Kistarcsa camp near Budapest and the town of Topolya in Vojvodina, while the main phase of deportation began on May 14 and lasted until July 9, 1944. 

It was pointed out that during this period, 142 trains arrived at Auschwitz with a total of about 420,000 deportees. 

“If we add to this number the transports from April and some smaller ones in late summer and autumn 1944, then the total number of deportees from Hungary will stand at about 430,000,” Kubik said, concluding that “shortly upon arrival at Auschwitz, 325,000 to 330,000 people lost their lives in the gas chambers, accounting for over 75% of the deported Jews from Hungary.”

The shoes are on display at the permanent exhibition at the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland.

Image credit: mbrand85/Shutterstock

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