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Porcelain and metal bottle stopper recovered from Chelmno killing center

Object | Accession Number: 1989.308.14

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    Porcelain and metal bottle stopper recovered from Chelmno killing center

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    Brief Narrative
    Porcelain bottle stopper, likely recovered from a temporary pit furnace at Chelmno killing center in German-occupied Poland, during an archaeological excavation in 1986 and 1987. Killing operations at Chelmno commenced on December 8, 1941. Prisoners were taken to a camp at a manor house (Schlosslager) in the village to undress and relinquish their valuables. They were then loaded into a gas van where they were killed. The van was then driven 2.5 miles northwest of the village to a camp in the Rzuchowski forest (Waldlager), where the bodies were dumped into mass graves. The large number of corpses created a threat of disease and discovery by Allied forces, so the bodies were exhumed and burned in seven primitive pit furnaces. In the fall of 1942, the furnaces were replaced with two open-air crematoria consisting of concrete foundations topped by a grate of train rails. In March 1943, transports to Chelmno stopped, and the manor house and open-air crematoria in the forest were demolished. Deportations to Chelmno resumed from June to July 1944, to facilitate the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto. In this second phase, the entire killing process was carried out in the forest camp (Waldlager), necessitating the construction of new buildings. The Germans abandoned the camp on January 17, 1945, having killed over 172,000 people. The excavations of 1986-87, and later work have identified additional furnaces, crematoria, and mass graves at the site.
    use:  before 1942 September
    recovered:  1986-1987
    recovery: Chelmno (Concentration camp); Chełmno (Koło, Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie

    Physical Details

    Household Utensils
    Object Type
    Bottle corks (lcsh)
    Bottle industry.
    Physical Description
    Conical, white, porcelain bottle stopper, threaded with heavily corroded metal wire. The stopper has rounded sides and a wide, circular, flat top. The sides taper towards the bottom, and flare outwards to form a small knob with a flat bottom. The bottom of the stopper has a small raised circle, which has traces of a black, circular outline. Additional traces of black decoration appear as thin lines on the side near the edge, and on the top. Two circular holes on opposite sides of the top form a tunnel, through which a straight metal wire is threaded. The wire bends downwards on both sides, after it had emerged from the stopper. On one side, the wire extends roughly an inch before ending in a jagged, broken point. On the other side, the wire extends for 1.75 inches before bending at a 90-degree angle and ending in a jagged break. The stopper has a large piece missing from the top and side, and has two smaller chips on the opposite side. There is significant overall wear, scratches, and discoloration on the surface.
    overall: Height: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Width: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm)
    overall : porcelain, metal, glaze, paint

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The bottle stopper was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by the Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie.
    Record last modified:
    2023-09-15 10:20:23
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