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Brown leather belt secretly made by a Polish Jewish concentration camp inmate

Object | Accession Number: 1993.156.2 a-b

Brown leather belt secretly made and worn by Idek Smolarz, 23, while imprisoned in Auschwitz I concentration camp from January to March 1944. Idek cut two leather straps off a German machine gun stand and his brother Solomon riveted them together to make him a belt. In May 1942, Idek and his oldest brother Solomon were sent to Krakow-Kostrze labor camp, and then to Krakow-Płaszów, where they were joined by their father Meyer. Their mother and siblings were rounded up in Skala, Poland. In summer 1943, Meyer died of typhus. In early 1944, Idek and Solomon were sent to Auschwitz I. In March, the brothers were separated when Idek was sent to Sosnowitz II slave labor camp. In late 1944 or early 1945, Idek was sent on a death march to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He was reunited with Solomon, but in March, Idek was sent to Wien-Hinterbruehl slave labor camp and Solomon to Melk. Idek was sent back to Mauthausen that month and found Solomon and their brother Leon. In April, Idek, Solomon, and Leon were sent on a death march to Gunskirchen, where they were liberated on May 5, 1945. They stayed in a hospital in Wels, then lived in Bindermichl displaced persons camp until their 1949 immigration to the United States. Idek’s mother, three sisters, younger brother, niece, nephew, and most of his extended family were killed during the Holocaust.

creation:  approximately 1944 January-1944 March
use:  approximately 1944 January-1945 May
creation: Auschwitz I (Concentration camp); Oświęcim (Poland)
use: Sosnowiec (Concentration camp); Sosnowiec (Województwo Śląskie, Poland)
use: Mauthausen (Concentration Camp); Mauthausen (Austria)
use: Wien-Hinterbruhl (Concentration camp); Hinterbruhl (Austria)
use: Gunskirchen (Concentration camp); Gunskirchen (Austria)
Dress Accessories
Belts (Clothing)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Edward Smolarz, in memory of his beloved grandparents Smolarz, Allerhand, and Langsam, his parents Meyer and Rosalia, his sisters Sara, Hanah, and Rifka, his brother, Samuel, and all victims of the Holocaust
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:22:12
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