Ring with a red heart and inmate numbers made from a spoon in a concentration camp
after 1943 October-before 1945 January
creation: after 1943 October-before 1945 January
Auschwitz (Concentration camp);
creation: Auschwitz (Concentration camp); Oswiecim (Poland)
- Object Type
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of Sol Goldstein
Silver-colored finger ring made from a spoon by Leib Krycberg in Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where he was an inmate from 1942-45. It is engraved with the initials and prisoner numbers, of Leib and Miriam Litman, another prisoner with whom he had fallen in love. He made a duplicate ring for Miriam. In January 1945, both Leib and Miriam were deported from Auschwitz to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. After Mauthausen was liberated on May 5, 1945, Leib lived for three years in Arnstdorf displaced persons (DP) camp in Germany. During that time, he travelled to Italy to visit Miriam, who was staying at the DP camp Nonantola, near Modena. He proposed to her there, but she turned him down, not yet feeling mature enough to get married. After they said goodbye, he never saw her again. Leib gave the ring to Sol Goldstein, who had been a fellow inmate in Auschwitz, before immigrating to Palestine in 1948. Leib would later immigrate to a DP camp in Germany, before moving to Canada in 1957. Miriam married another man, and the couple immigrated to Palestine in 1946, where they had two children. Unlike Leib, Miriam kept her ring until 2005 when her children donated it to the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
- Physical Description
- Handmade finger ring created from a silver-colored metal spoon, with a square face, flanked by triangles, and with an incised border. In the center is a red plastic heart that penetrates to the ring’s interior. Numbers are engraved above and below the heart. Letters are engraved on the left and right triangles of the ring.
- overall : 0.875 diam. in. (2.223 diam. cm.)
- overall : metal, plastic
- front, above heart, engraved : 88842
front, below heart, engraved : 54994
left side within triangle, engraved : M
right side within triangle, engraved : L
Artisan: Leib Krycberg
Subject: Miriam Nevo
Previous owner: Sol Goldstein
Leib Krycberg (later Leon Kritzberg, 1919-1995) was born in Śniadowo (Województwo Podlaskie, Poland) to Chaim (1895-1942) and Zisel (nee Andrzeiko, c.1900-1942) Krycberg, who ran a gristmill. Around the time Leib was born, Śniadowo had less than 400 Jewish residents. The small community, however, had active Jewish organizations, including a Zionist group.
On September 1, 1939, western Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and a few weeks later, the Soviets invaded from the east. The Germans occupied Śniadowo for approximately three weeks before the Soviet army arrived. During this time, the Germans deported an unknown number of male Jews and Christians to forced labor camps, including Leib. Between September 5, 1939 and September 1942, Leib was taken to forced labor camps Stablatt, Ostrodenka, Sniadova, and Zembrowa. In November 1942, the Germans forcibly transported him to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center, where he was assigned prisoner number 88842. He was placed on the Sonderkommando, which was a special unit of Jewish prisoners. Sonderkommandos were forced to perform a variety of tasks, including greeting and lying to new arrivals, sorting and unpacking the suitcases of prisoners, removing corpses from the gas chambers, removing clothing and valuables from the corpses, and loading the crematoria ovens. Sonderkommandos were sometimes given handouts, straw mattresses, or extra food. Most were eventually killed as their health deteriorated.
Birkenau had distinct camps for men and women, separated by an electric fence. Imprisoned in the women’s camp was Leib’s friend, Miriam Litman (later, Nevo), who was assigned prisoner number 54994. As a Sonderkommando, Leib was occasionally able to bring Miriam gifts, such as bread, shoes, and small valuables she could exchange for needed goods. He was also able to arrange a cleaning job for Miriam’s aunt, and kept Miriam and her aunt off deportation and killing lists. Their exchanges were incredibly risky, and when the guards discovered that Leib gave Miriam shoes, he was beaten badly as punishment.
Leib was imprisoned in Birkenau until January 1945, when the camp was liquidated and 9,000 prisoners were deported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. The camp was filled beyond capacity, and a tent compound was built for the overflow. Prisoners at Mauthausen were continuously subjected to deprivation and brutality by the guards. Most men worked at the quarry, hauling heavy stones up the so-called “Stairs of Death” by hand. From January to April 1945, there were 15,630 recorded deaths at Mauthausen, and many more that were not recorded. Leib and Miriam both had been deported to Mauthausen. While there, Miriam attempted to repay the gifts Leib gave her in Auschwitz with gifts of her own, such as wool earmuffs and bread. During one of those exchanges, they were caught by a German soldier, who Leib later convinced to deliver a package to Miriam.
Leib and Miriam were among the 21,000 prisoners liberated from Mauthausen and its subcamps by the U.S. Army on May 5, 1945. From September 1945 to September 1948, he lived in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) displaced persons (DP) camp Arnstdorf, in Germany. In the summer of 1945, Leib travelled to Italy to visit Miriam, who was staying at the DP camp Nonantola, near Modena. He proposed to her there, but she turned him down, not yet feeling mature enough to get married. After they said goodbye, he never saw her again. Afterwards, Leib immigrated to Palestine (now Israel), and in October 1948 he entered military service. In December 1951, Leib married Maria Lesser (1935-1955), with whom he had one child, Zisel (b. 1952), and they lived in Israel. In June 1953, Leib was imprisoned in Munich, Germany. After a month, he was released and went to Föhrenwald, a displaced persons (DP) camp in Germany. There, he worked as an auto mechanic and furrier. After Maria’s death in 1955, Lieb applied for admission into Canada for himself and his daughter. In 1956, Leib and Zisel immigrated to Canada, where he changed his name to Leon Kritzberg. Föhrenwald remained open until 1957, and it was the final DP camp to close.
Miriam Nevo (nee Litman, b.1923) was born in Warsaw, Poland to Ariej Leib and Ryfka Litman. Jewish life and culture thrived in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. At 350,000 people, the Jewish community comprised about 30 percent of Warsaw’s total population. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and German troops entered Warsaw on September 29, after subjecting the city to heavy artillery bombardment. On October 12, 1940, German authorities in Warsaw decreed the establishment of a 1.3 square mile Jewish ghetto and required over 400,000 Jews, including Miriam, from the city and nearby towns to relocate there.
Miriam managed to escape the ghetto to a nearby forest. At the end of July 1942, German authorities began deporting Jews from the ghetto to Treblinka killing center. In May 1943, Miriam was captured and imprisoned. Between August and October, she was forcibly transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center, where she was tattooed with prisoner number 54994. At Birkenau, she reunited with her aunt, Zosia and met Leib Krycberg, a member of the Sonderkommando. Sonderkommandos were forced to perform a variety of tasks, including greeting and lying to new arrivals, sorting and unpacking the suitcases of prisoners, removing corpses from the gas chambers, removing clothing and valuables from the corpses, and loading the crematoria ovens. They were sometimes given handouts, straw mattresses, or extra food. Most were eventually killed as their health deteriorated. As a Sonderkommando, Leib was occasionally able to bring Miriam gifts, such as bread, shoes, and small valuables she could exchange for needed goods. He was also able to arrange a cleaning job for Miriam’s aunt and kept Miriam and her aunt off deportation and killing lists. Their exchanges were incredibly risky, and when the guards discovered that Leib gave Miriam shoes, he was beaten badly as punishment.
During the winter of 1944-1945, as Soviet forces approached Auschwitz, Miriam was forced on a death march to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, arriving on January 27th. During the march, the prisoners had to deal with starvation, weakness, and bitter cold; they were shot if they could not keep up. Leib had been deported to Mauthausen as well, and Miriam tried to repay his gifts to her at Auschwitz with wool earmuffs and bread. She was caught by a German soldier, who later was convinced by Leib to deliver a package to Miriam. She was later transferred to Ebensee, a subcamp of Mauthausen, which was liberated by American forces on May 6, 1945.
After liberation, Miriam went to Kammer-Schoerfling displaced persons (DP) camp in Austria, before traveling to Italy to stay at another DP camp at Nonantola, near Modena, Italy on July 20, 1945. While at Nonantola, Leib came to visit her from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) Camp Arnstdorf in Germany. He proposed to her there, but she turned him down, not yet feeling mature enough to get married. After they said goodbye, she never saw him again. Later, she met Noah Kaluski (later, Nevo) a Jewish Brigade soldier in the British army. They married in Italy in 1945, and in June 1946, immigrated to Palestine (now, Israel). Miriam became an elementary school teacher and the couple had two children. Miriam talked about the Holocaust often to her children and students, always finishing her stories with happy or sweet endings.
Solomon (Sol) Goldstein (1926-2005) was born to Avram and Cirll Robota Goldstein in Ciechanów, Poland, where Avram worked as a furrier. The couple had one more son, Nathan (1924-1942). In 1935, Sol moved to Warsaw with his mother and brother, where he and Nathan helped Cirll in the family hardware store. Meanwhile, Avram traveled to South America, with hopes to make his way to the United States and bring his family there. Soon after arriving in Argentina, Avram died of a heart attack. Cirll married again in 1939 to Sheja Baumgarten and they had a son.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and German troops entered Warsaw on September 29, after subjecting the city to heavy artillery bombardment. The German army subjected the city to heavy artillery bombardment, which Sol saw through his window. On October 12, 1940, German authorities in Warsaw decreed the establishment of a 1.3 square mile Jewish ghetto, and required over 400,000 Jews from the city and nearby towns to relocate there. One day in 1940, Sol witnessed German soldiers taking items from the store; after questioning them, he was struck in the head with a pistol. Soon after this incident, the family received an official notice, forcing them to close their store and relocate to the Warsaw ghetto. Before the ghetto walls were sealed, Sol and Nathan snuck back to the hardware store with a wagon to bring as much merchandise as they could to the ghetto. Sol was sent to do forced labor outside the ghetto. Following a Red Cross inspection, the laborers—including Sol—were forced to return to the ghetto. Nathan escaped and returned to Ciechanów and lived with their grandfather, Berl Zudek Goldstein.
Due to a shortage of food in the ghetto, Sol escaped through a drainage hole in the 23-foot wall and headed toward the Soviet border. On the way, he arrived in Lublin, Poland, where he got a job on a farm by posing as a Gentile named Stasiek. He soon feared discovery and returned to the Warsaw ghetto. Conditions in the ghetto were getting increasingly worse; death from disease and starvation was commonplace. Sol contracted typhus and, after recovering, decided to escape again, this time to Ciechanów. His parents wanted him to stay, but Sol refused to stay and watch as people died in the streets. His mother arranged to provide him with a guide. While Sol was waiting to depart, his mother went up to their apartment to retrieve something. His guide had bribed a particular streetcar conductor, and when the streetcar arrived, Sol had to take it. His mother did not return in time and he never saw her again.
Upon arriving in Ciechanów, Sol was identified as an outsider and jailed. After his release in 1942, he fled to Nowe Miasto, Poland, where his aunt, Sura Magnushawer, lived. Sol was caught entering the ghetto and sent to Pultusk to do forced labor. They were housed in an old synagogue, where he slept on the floor in filthy, lice-infested straw. He was part of a group of 3,500 that ‘volunteered’ to stay for the winter. Those plans fell through, and in October 1942, they were taken back to Nowe Miasto, then put on cattle cars and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. Although Sol was not aware of it at the time, Dr. Josef Mengele was in charge of selections. Only 300 men and 200 women were selected to survive. Sol’s aunt Sura was among those killed upon arrival. Sol was placed in a line with the old men, but convinced the guard that he was sixteen and old enough to work. He was assigned prisoner number 77325 and worked constructing the road from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. He learned that his brother and grandfather had been brought to the camp two months earlier, but both had been beaten to death.
During the summer of 1943, Sol was transferred to Janinagrube concentration camp, first building the camp’s electric fence and later, working in a coalmine. In the winter of 1944, as Soviet forces approached the region, Sol was transferred back to Auschwitz and taken via forced march to a railroad station. The prisoners were crowded into cattle cars. After 11 days without food or water, some people resorted to cannibalism of the dead bodies. The remaining inmates were offloaded at Oranienburg-Heinkelwerke concentration camp, outside of Berlin, Germany. A few days later, Sol was transferred to Flossenbürg labor camp, first working in a stone mine, and then, from January to March 1945, constructing the Ganacker concentration camp airfield. In April 1945, the camp was evacuated by forced march. While on the march, Sol and three friends were watching a guard eat his lunch. They motioned that they wanted to go into the woods and the guard turned his back to them. They escaped, turned their uniforms inside out, and hid in the forest.
In May 1945, the Americans arrived and Sol was liberated outside Schonau, Austria. Sol stayed in Germany for several years after his liberation, before immigrating to the United States. An aunt brought him to Hammond, Indiana, where he met and married his wife, Lucille. They had three children. Sol worked at Inland Steel and owned a lawnmower shop on the side; he retired after thirty years. He spoke often to school groups about his experiences, telling them: “We cannot forget. A Holocaust like this should never happen.”
- Topical Term
Concentration camp inmates--Biography.
Concentration camp tattoos.
Death march survivors.
Israel--Emigration and immigration.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives.
- Geographic Name
Śniadowo (Województwo Podlaskie, Poland)
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The ring was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Nathan Goldstein, the son of Solomon Goldstein.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Record last modified: 2019-05-10 14:40:55
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn518549