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Concentration camp uniform coat worn by an Austrian Catholic inmate

Object | Accession Number: 1989.235.1

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    Concentration camp uniform coat worn by an Austrian Catholic inmate


    Brief Narrative
    Concentration camp uniform knee length coat worn by Karl Unterthiner, an Austrian Catholic political prisoner in Dachau concentration camp from March 25, 1944, to April 29, 1945. Karl lived in Sterzing, (Vitipeno) Italy, an alpine village, which was part of Austria until World War I. In June 1939, Germany and Italy agreed this area would be Italianized. Residents who wished to retain their German culture and language were given the option to go to Germany or Austria which was part of the German Reich. Karl was Austrian, and he refused to leave his home and spoke out against Fascism and Nazism. On September 9, 1943, he was arrested for anti-German activity, and sent to Innsbruck special camp. On February 2, 1944, he was sent to nearby Reichenau work education camp. On March 23, Karl was sent to Dachau and assigned prisoner number 66170. On April 29, 1945, the camp was liberated by American forces.
    use:  1944 March 25-1945 April 29
    use: Dachau (Concentration camp); Dachau (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Rudi A. Unterthiner, in memory of Karl Unterthiner
    Subject: Karl Unterthiner
    Karl Unterthiner was born on June 16, 1901, in Ridnaun, Austria (now Ridanno, Italy), to Johann and Anna Eisenstecken Unterthiner. He had a brother, John. The family was Roman Catholic. Following World War I (1914-1918), the Austrian province of Tyrol was divided. South Tyrol, including Ridnaun, was given to Italy. The residents maintained their Austrian culture and language. Karl married Paula Plunger. The couple had one child. They lived in Sterzing, Italy. Karl was an electrician and Paula ran a small inn.

    Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy in 1922 and gradually established a Fascist dictatorship. Italy signed a treaty of friendship with Nazi Germany in 1936 and others pacts in the coming years. On June 23, 1939, the Italian and German governments agreed that the residents of South Tyrol could either move to Germany or remain in their homes and be Italianized. Karl and his family decided to stay in Sterzing. The German culture and language were prohibited and the names of people, cities, landmarks, and streets were Italianized. Karl’s last name was changed to Umbertini. He spoke out against Fascism and Nazism. On September 8, 1943, Italy surrendered to the Allies and was occupied by Germany. On September 9, Karl was arrested for anti-Nazi activity and propaganda against Germany. Paula was also arrested but was released. Their inn was closed and was not given back to Paula after she returned. On November 23, Karl was sent to Innsbruck special camp. On February 2, 1944, he was sent Reichenau work education camp, near Innsbruck. Karl was severely beaten by the SS Untersturmfuhrer Freiberger and a Gestapo officer in the camp. On March 23, Karl was sent to Dachau concentration camp in Germany, arriving on March 25. He was assigned prisoner number 66170. Dachau was liberated by American forces on April 29, 1945. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7. Karl was cared for by the Americans, and then returned to Sterzing. Karl died several years later as a result of a disease he contracted during his imprisonment.

    Physical Details

    Clothing and Dress
    Object Type
    Coats (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Blue and gray vertically striped knee length wool coat, with long sleeves and a pointed collar with a hook and eye closure at the top. The front opening has a left placket with 5 finished buttonholes; the right placket has 4 identical black plastic buttons and 1 gray ceramic. The plackets are lined with striped cloth, different from the jacket. There are 2 hip pockets with a flap sewn above. The top pocket edges and the flap are lined with gray cloth. The back has a center seam and a 15 inch vent. The interior has gray cloth lining in the upper back and sleeves. The collar may have been reattached or repaired and the reverse side has large triangles stitched in black thread. The hems and seams are neatly machine finished. There is a loose thread triangle outline on the left where patches would have been attached. The cloth has holes and repairs.
    overall: Height: 43.875 inches (111.443 cm) | Width: 17.000 inches (43.18 cm)
    overall : wool, cotton, plastic, metal, thread

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The concentration camp jacket was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by Dr. Rudi A. Unterthiner, the nephew of Karl Unterthiner.
    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 18:21:09
    This page:

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