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Soap from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2005.301.1

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    Soap from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp


    Brief Narrative
    Bar of soap issued to 15-year-old Erwin Dankner in June 1944 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. The soap was never used. Erwin, his parents, Henry and Catherina, and his brother, Anthony, arrived in Bergen-Belsen by train from Budapest, Hungary, as part of a rescue effort organized by Rezso Kasztner. Later in 1944, the family was transferred to safety in Switzerland.
    received:  1944 June
    received: Bergen-Belsen (Concentration camp); Belsen (Bergen, Celle, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Erwin R. Danker
    Stamped on one side : 73 RIF 0073 R
    Subject: Erwin R. Dankner
    Erwin Dankner was born December 1, 1928, in Budapest, Hungary. His parents were Catherina (nee Braun, 6/1/1897-10/24/1976) and Henry (10/7/1897-12-1/25/1971), who was born in Horodenka, Poland ( now Ukraine). Erwin had one younger brother, Anthony, born December 18, 1929). Henry was a prominent jeweler who had been honored for his craftsmanship. In 1939, one of their regular customers, whom Erwin assumed was Jewish because of the Star of David charm on her bracelet, gave them a name and phone number to call “if/when things got nasty.” In 1944, Erwin was conscripted to a forced labor camp but broke his collar bone and was sent home for 5 weeks to recover. At that point, the family retrieved the phone number from their safe. It turned out to be a contact at Gestapo headquarters. The contact helped the family join a group of Jews who were taken by train out of Budapest in June 1944. This was part of a transfer for money negotiated between the German SS and Rezső Kasztner of the Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest. They were first taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In August 1944, the Dankner’s were part of a group who were transferred to safety in Switzerland. The family lived in Switzerland until 1948 when they emigrated to the United States. Their father was able to re-establish the family jewelry business, first in Switzerland, then in New York. Erwin married Helen Kallus, a Czech Jew who had survived the Munkac ghetto and Auschwitz, and emigrated to the US in 1949.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Soap (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangle of whitish gray soap with some striation lines. Letters and numbers impressed on one side.
    overall: Height: 1.560 inches (3.962 cm) | Width: 2.130 inches (5.41 cm) | Depth: 0.630 inches (1.6 cm)
    overall : soap

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The soap was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Erwin Dankner.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:10
    This page:

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