Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Silver-plated axe and sword shaped letter opener won in a prewar swim meet by Polish Catholic youth

Object | Accession Number: 2004.374.4

Silver-plated engraved axe and sword shaped letter opener awarded to Henryk Zguda before the war when he was a competitive swimmer with the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association.) The opener was made by Emil Goldwasser, a prominent jeweler in Krakow. Goldwasser's daughter was in Auschwitz when Henryk was. One night, Henryk and his friend, Kazio snuck into the women's camp to visit her and take her supplies. Kazio was a skilled trader and paid the guards to not shoot. He and Henryk used an open barrel to hold up the electric fence and to crawl through. Henryk, a 25 year old Catholic, was arrested in occupied Krakow by the German SS on May 30, 1942. On June 15, Henryk was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. He was given a red triangle with the letter P to identify him as a political prisoner. He was transferred to Buchenwald on March 12, 1943, where he worked in the stone quarry. In spring 1945, Buchenwald was evacuated and, on April 10, Henryk was forced on a death march to Dachau. He was liberated by American troops on April 29. Henryk was hospitalized and then sent to Neu Freimann displaced persons camp. He returned to Krakow in 1946.

received:  before 1939 September
received: Krakow (Poland)
Object Type
Letter openers (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Nancy Zguda
Record last modified: 2023-01-26 13:49:26
This page: