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Badge with an R for Rustung (Armament) worn by a Polish Jewish worker in Beskiden labor camp

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Badge with an R for Rustung (Armament Worker) worn by Zbyszek Kelhoffer, circa 1941-1943, as a forced laborer in the Beskiden Oil factory camp in German occupied Boryslaw, Poland (Boryslav, Ukraine). When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Zbyszek was mobilized into the Polish Army. After a brief campaign, he returned to Soviet occupied Boryslaw. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and Zbyszek was drafted into the Soviet Army. He was captured by the Germans, escaped, and returned home. On July 1, German troops occupied Boryslaw. There was a succession of joint German SS and Ukrainian pogroms killing hundreds of Jews. Zbyszek's wife Sydzia and her mother went into hiding. After Belzec killing center opened in March 1942, 1000s of Boryslaw Jews were deported there. By October 1942, Zbyszek, his parents, and two sisters-in-law were confined in the ghetto. Zbyszek was allowed to leave for work and his worker status probably delayed deportation selection. The ghetto was raided often and many were shot during round-ups. By February 1943, Zbyszek had to move to the slave labor camp. SS and Ukrainian troops moved into the ghetto to eliminate the remaining Jews. His parents were shot. Sydzia and her mother joined her two sisters in hiding in June 1943. Zbyszek joined them in December. The Soviet Army liberated Boryslaw on August 8, 1944. Zbyszek and his family were among only 200 surviving Jews from a population of 12,000. After the war ended in May 1945, Boryslaw was Soviet territory, so they left for Poland.

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Details

  • Title: Badge with an R for Rustung (Armament) worn by a Polish Jewish worker in Beskiden labor camp
  • Provenance: The badge was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Barbara Kelhoffer Bieganiec, the daughter of of Sydonia and Zbigniew Kelhoffer.
  • Subject Keywords: Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Ukraine--Boryslav--Personal narratives. Jewish families--Ukraine--Boryslav--Biography. Jews--Ukraine--Boryslav--Biography. Slave labor--Ukraine--Boryslav--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor--Personal narratives.
  • Type: Identifying Artifacts
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Rectangular, offwhite cloth badge with a bold letter R chain stitched with 3 rows of black thread. A faint, pink inked circular stamp with Nazi insignia is imprinted at the bottom. The frayed cloth edges are folded over and sewn. There is a red/brown painted metal grommet in each corner. The top two attach a torn piece of yellowed plastic to the cloth. The back has numbers stamped in purple ink. The badge has ink spots and is stained from use.

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