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Soap found in a liberated concentration camp by a US soldier

Object | Accession Number: 1992.122.2

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    Soap found in a liberated concentration camp by a US soldier

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Bar of soap mass produced in wartime Germany found by Harold Burdette Conlan, a soldier in 701st D Company, US Army, at the liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. The camp was discovered by troops from the 6th Army on April 11, 1945. Starving prisoners had already seized control of the camp after the Germans begun evacuations. Other US Army units soon arrived to help care for the over 20,000 ill and malnourished prisoners and restore order and sanitary conditions. The war ended with Germany's surrender on May 7, 1945. Conlan instructed his family to reverence the items he had found and to never forget the tragic circumstance in which they were found.
    Date
    found:  after 1945 April 11-before 1945 August
    Geography
    found: Buchenwald (Concentration camp) postliberation; Weimar (Thuringia, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ruth Conlan
    Contributor
    Subject: Harold B. Conlan
    Biography
    Harold Burdette Conlan was born on April 25, 1905, to Howard and Lillian Lightcap Conlan in Salamanca, New York. He had a younger brother Robert. Harold grew up in Mansfield, Ohio. He was a truck driver. In early December 1941, the United States entered World War II (1939-1945.) Harold entered the Army on April 22, 1942. He was assigned to 701st Company D and deployed to Europe in 1944. In April 1945, his unit was in Germany. Harold and his unit assisted in the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, which was discovered by the 6th Army on April 11.

    The war ended on May 7, 1945, with Germany's surrender. Harold returned stateside and was released from the Army on September 21. He was married to Ruth Silcott (1914-2005). The couple had two daughters. Conlan brought home several items that he had found in the liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. When he told his family about that experience, he instructed them to care for and reverence the items and to never forget the tragic circumstance in which they were found. Harold, 73, passed away on January 4, 1978.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Soap (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, dense bar of mottled green soap with black speckles. There is an impressed rectangle outline with a code on the top and a blank rectangle outline on the bottom. The soap is cracked and gouged but seems unused.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm) | Depth: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm)
    Materials
    overall : soap
    Inscription
    top, center, stamped : RIF / 0053 [Reichsstelle für Industrielle Fettversorgung, Reich Center for Industrial Fat Provisioning]

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The soap was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992 by Ruth Conlan., the wife of Harold Burdette Conlan.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:21:47
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn5805

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