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Piston head ashtray made for concentration camp commander found by US military aid worker

Object | Accession Number: 1988.112.59

Ashtray made from a truck piston head found by Lt. Milton Shurr, a Jewish American soldier, at the recently liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in April-May 1945 in Germany. It is inscribed to Herman Pister, the SS camp commandant, who fled before US troops arrived. He was captured, tried, and sentenced to death, but died before the sentence was carried out. First Lt. Shurr, Civil Affairs Unit, assisted in planning for D-Day, June 6, 1944. He landed on Omaha Beach soon after the invasion to organize supplies, then was placed with the 1st Army Displaced Persons Team. On April 11, 1945, the US Third Army liberated Buchenwald. Command of the camp was transferred to the 1st Army, which was responsible for establishing order, improving camp conditions, and caring for the inmates. Shurr worked 16 hour days trying to find food for 15,000 starving survivors. He later was sent to Bavaria as a health welfare officer to assist with the re-establishment of schools, hospitals, and other social services by the US Military occupation government. In 1949, he declined a permanent position and returned to the US.

found:  1945 April-1945 May
found: Buchenwald (Concentration camp); Weimar (Thuringia, Germany)
Object Type
Ashtrays (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Milton L. Shurr
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:10:49
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