Researchers have made strides in unearthing artifacts that once belonged to Holocaust victims on the site of a former Nazi death camp, including a pendant that may shed new light on the early life of Anne Frank, the girl who chronicled her tragic experience in her famed diary.
Archaeologists working to dig up Sobibór, located in eastern Poland, believe they have uncovered the building where victims used to undress and get their heads shaved before being sent to gas chambers, according to a statement released Sunday by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum.
It’s been leading the charge on the excavations with the help of the Israel Antiquities Authority since 2007.
Among various items found last fall, the statement said, was a “unique pendant, probably belonging to a child from Frankfurt who was born on July 3, 1929.” The Hebrew words “Mazal Tov” are etched on one side and the Hebrew letter “ה,” which means God, is on the other along with three Stars of David.
Yad Vashem experts determined that the only other similar pendant known to exist was owned by Frank, and this one may have belonged to a girl named Karoline Cohn, who was deported to Minsk, Belarus, from Frankfurt, Germany, in 1941. Frank was also born in Frankfurt, signaling a possible connection between the two families.
The statement continues:
While it is not known if Cohn survived the harsh conditions in the Minsk ghetto, her pendant reached Sobibór sometime between November 1941 and September 1943, when the ghetto was liquidated and the 2,000 Jewish prisoners interned there were deported to the death camp. There, along the path to the gas chambers of Sobibór, the pendant belonging to 14-year-old Karoline Cohn was taken, dropped, and remained buried in the ground for over 70 years.
“This pendant demonstrates once again the importance of archaeological research of former Nazi death camp sites,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yoram Haimi said in the statement. “The moving story of Karoline Cohn is symbolic of the shared fate of the Jews murdered in the camp.”
Sobibór was one of several Nazi death camps ― places where Jews were sent specifically to be exterminated. Although open only a little more than a year ― from March 1942 until October 1943 ― more than 165,000 Jews died there. Nazis then closed the camp and attempted to erase any trace of it.
Experts are now trying to get in contact with Cohn’s relatives for more information, the statement said.