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Concentration camp uniform jacket worn by a Polish Jewish inmate

Object | Accession Number: 1988.132.1

Blue and gray striped winter weight jacket issued to Welek Luksenburg, 21, in Oranienburg concentration camp in January 1945, and also worn in Flossenburg and Regensburg concentration camps. It is worn through at the neck from the pressure of the ropes used to haul rocks as a slave laborer. In April 1945, Welek collapsed during a death march and was rescued by a German farmer. As American troops moved through the area, a soldier approached Welek with a razor saying, "A souvenir" and removed his Star of David and prisoner number 187295 patch. A red triangle was also removed. The soldiers took Welek, then 65 pounds, to an army hospital to recover. He later returned for the jacket, which he had been told to bury to avoid spreading infection. Welek retrieved it because he wanted evidence to show people what had happened during the Holocaust. This jacket, a pair of pants, and wooden shoes were all he had to keep him warm for months. William was from Dabrowa Gornicza in Poland which was occupied by Germany in September 1939. Welek, his parents, and brother Szlomo were sent to the Jewish ghetto by 1941. In 1942, his parents Rozalia and Simcha were deported and killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Welek got Szlomo released from a labor camp hospital and escaped a prison camp to care for him. When Welek was arrested, Szlomo was sent to Auschwitz and killed. In 1943, Welek was deported to Blechhammer, then Gleiwitz slave labor camps. In January 1945, Gleiwitz was evacuated and the prisoners sent to Oranienburg. William was transferred to Flossenburg, then Regensburg. After his recovery in the US Army hospital, he worked in the camp. While in Gleiwitz, he had become close to a young woman, Hinde (Helen) Chilewicz. When Gleiwitz was evacuated, Hinde was sent to Ravensbrueck and was liberated during a death march by Soviet forces in May 1945. She returned to Sosnowiec to search for family and learned that they had been killed in the camps. She left for Czechoslovakia, then Germany. Helen and William were reunited in October 1945. They married in Weiden displaced persons camp on March 2, 1947. The couple emigrated to the US in 1949.

Date
1944 May 03-1945 May  (use)
Geography
issue : Oranienburg (Concentration camp); Oranienburg (Germany)
use : Flossenburg (Concentration camp); Flossenburg (Germany)
use : Regensburg (Concentration camp); Regensburg (Germany)
Classification
Clothing and Dress
Object Type
Jackets (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Helen and William Luksenburg
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:25:57
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn521305