For 70 Years, A Mug In Auschwitz Held A Secret Treasure : The Two-Way The Auschwitz museum has thousands of pieces of enameled kitchenware. In one mug, a carefully constructed false bottom successfully hid items from the Nazis.
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For 70 Years, A Mug In Auschwitz Held A Secret Treasure

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For 70 Years, A Mug In Auschwitz Held A Secret Treasure

For 70 Years, A Mug In Auschwitz Held A Secret Treasure

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now a story of hidden treasure uncovered after 70 years in the Auschwitz Museum which collects artifacts from the concentration camp used during World War II. Camila Domonoske wrote about this story for npr.org and joins us now. Camila, what was this item that was discovered after 70 years?

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: So this was a mug that was a part of the collection of kitchenwares that they have at the Auschwitz Museum. And it was a very ordinary looking enamelled mug.

SHAPIRO: But it had a fake bottom.

DOMONOSKE: It had a fake bottom that no one knew about. So the bottom popped off. After decades and decades, it finally started to rust, and...

SHAPIRO: And underneath...

DOMONOSKE: A beautiful gold ring with stones inlaid and a space in the middle for another stone to possibly go there and a gold necklace that had been coiled up and wrapped in canvas.

SHAPIRO: We can assume that Jews did this to hide valuables. Do we know anything specific about who it might have belonged to?

DOMONOSKE: There is no evidence that they have found so far of a specific owner. And so for now, the plan at the museum is to preserve the mug with the treasures exactly how they had been concealed for seven decades.

SHAPIRO: Does this tell us anything larger about what happened at Auschwitz or how the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust happened?

DOMONOSKE: Yeah, it actually does. The director of the Auschwitz Museum was really emphasizing the fact that Jews who were being led to Auschwitz and concentration camps were lied to, right? The Nazis told them we're going to settle you somewhere else. You're going to be starting a new life. We need you to pack, but you can't bring very much. And it was a complete ploy to get them to bring their most valuable items with them to the concentration camp.

And so what the fact that families would hide their valuables like this shows is that there was complete suspicion that this was a ploy to rob them. But there was also a hope that they were going somewhere where having their valuables would be useful.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Camila Domonoske. Thanks a lot.

DOMONOSKE: Yeah. Thank you, Ari.

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