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Blue felt belt with appliqued flowers found by a German Jewish teenage inmate at Auschwitz

Object | Accession Number: 1988.99.1

Floral appliqué belt issued or found by 14 year old Ruth Krautwirth upon her April 1943 arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, when her clothes were taken and she was given filthy, ill-fitting civilian clothing to wear. As Ruth recalled: "We endured at the edge of the crematoria. One day, very early on, I found a felt belt. A happy row of flowers on a blue field. Obviously the cheerful work of a child. ...I used the belt to cinch the waistline of my striped prison uniform. I bloused the top to hide the belt or I would have risked a beating. The button closing is long gone. Somewhere I found a rusty safety pin. It has remained there ever since. ...As starvation progressed, my clothes became looser with every day. To assuage my mother, I explained - not very convincingly - that instead of getting thinner, the belt actually stretched. Wearing this forbidden piece of finery was my pathetic act of defiance. I am still proud of it." Ruth, her parents Hanna and Isak, and brother Zev, 10, were deported from Frankfurt, Germany, to Birkenau in April 1943. Ruth and Hanna, separated from Isak and Zev, were together through Birkenau, Ravensbruck, and Malchow, and were liberated on a death march by US troops in May 1945. Zev survived Birkenau, Sachsenhausen, Gunskirchen, and Mauthausen and then went to Palestine. Several of Ruth’s relatives were killed in the Holocaust. Her father Isak, age 46, was killed in Auschwitz on November 19, 1943. Her maternal grandfather and cousins also were killed. Ruth and Hannah left for America in 1947.

Date
1943 April-1945 May  (use)
Geography
found : Birkenau (Concentration camp); Birkenau (Germany)
use : Ravensbruck (Concentration camp); Ravensbruck (Germany)
use : Malchow (Concentration camp); Malchow (Germany)
Classification
Dress Accessories
Category
Belts (Clothing)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ruth Meyerowitz
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Record last modified: 2018-11-07 08:49:20
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn813