It’s been 72 years since the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by allied forces. Even today the site is studied by archaeologists, historians, and scientists hoping to find, restore, and in some incredibly rare cases return items stolen from the prisoners.
Most possessions deemed valuable by the third Reich were confiscated while others were simply removed and forgotten. Among the countless eyeglasses, prayer shawls, children’s toys, clothes, and more “common” items, researchers made an absolutely incredible find.
What appeared to be a simple mug had a false bottom hiding a precious secret for the better part of a century. An x-ray revealed a gold ring and a necklace hidden inside. Auschwitz Museum director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński believes the mug was likely taken from a Jewish family as they were forced into a concentration camp.
“The Germans incessantly lied to the Jews deported for extermination,” Cywiński said in a press release. “They were told about resettlement, work and life in a different location. They allowed the victims [to] take with them little luggage. In this way, the Germans were confident that in the luggage – including clothes and items needed for life – they would find the last valuables of the deported families.”
The researchers were heartbroken when they realized there would be no way to ever know who tried to hide these precious heirlooms. Cywiński commented that the original owner’s attempt to hide their valuables “shows that the Jewish families constantly had a ray of hope that these items will be required for their existence.”
According to Cywiński’s press release, the ring, necklace, and mug will be displayed at the Auschwitz Museum “as a testimony to the fate of the Jews deported to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.”