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Partial lower plate of a denture with two molars recovered from Chelmno killing center

Object | Accession Number: 1989.308.16

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    Partial lower plate of a denture with two molars recovered from Chelmno killing center


    Brief Narrative
    Fragment of a lower denture, 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

    Tools and Equipment
    Physical Description
    Fragment of a lower denture from a mandibular arch with two, off-white porcelain molars. The majority of the denture plate is missing, with just the rearmost left section remaining. The base or support for the teeth is made of a dark reddish-orange, hard rubber, molded to follow the curved contours of the lower gum and jaw. The denture has a wide rounded back, and is arched along the underside, allowing it to rest on top of the lower left gum line while being worn. The denture’s front edge is snapped away and aligns with the broken edge of a chunk of the gum, which connects to the back portion by an interior, silver-colored metal wire. Two molars — wide teeth with broad flat heads — are set into circular holes cut into the wide top of the gum. In front of what is likely the second molar is an additional hole for a tooth that is now missing. The lower edges and sides of the gum are smooth, rounded, and thick, and the thick top is slightly flattened to support the teeth. The snapped and twisted section is cracked and discolored where the wire touches the rubber. Overall, the surface of the gum is soiled, and cracking and peeling away in small patches. The teeth are lightly discolored from use. The right, front, and part of the left side of the denture supported 8-10 porcelain teeth, which are now missing.
    overall: Height: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Width: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Depth: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm)
    overall : rubber, porcelain, metal, ink
    bottom, front center, handwritten, black ink : CHO 22

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The denture fragment was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by the Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie.
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-12 10:52:13
    This page:

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