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Blue and gray striped concentration camp uniform jacket worn by a Polish Jewish inmate in several camps

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Blue and gray striped winter weight jacket issued to 21 year old Welek Luksenburg in Oranienburg concentration camp in January 1945, and also worn in Flossenburg and Regensburg concentration camps. It is worn through at the neck from the pressure of the ropes used to haul rocks as a slave laborer. In April 1945, Welek collapsed during a forced march and was rescued by a German farmer who took him to his barn and fed him. As American troops moved through the area, Welek was liberated. A soldier approached him with a razor saying, "A souvenir" and removed his Star of David and prisoner number 187295 patch. A red triangle was also removed. The soldiers took Welek, who weighed 65 pounds, to an army hospital to recover. He later returned for the jacket, which he had been told to bury to avoid spreading infection. Welek retrieved it because he wanted evidence to show people what had happened during the Holocaust. This jacket, a pair of pants, and wooden shoes were all he had to keep him warm for months. William was from Dabrowa Gornicza in Poland which was annexed to Germany in September 1939. Welek, his parents, and brother Szlomo were sent to the Jewish ghetto by 1941. In 1942, his parents Rozalia and Simcha were deported and killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Welek got Szlomo, who had broken his leg, released from a labor camp hospital and escaped a prison camp to care for him. When Welek was arrested, Szlomo was sent to Auschwitz where he was killed. In 1943, Welek was deported to Blechhammer, then Gleiwitz slave labor camps. In January 1945, Gleiwitz was evacuated and the prisoners sent to Oranienburg. William was transferred to Flossenburg, and then Regensburg. After his recovery in the US Army hospital, he worked in the camp. While in Gleiwitz, he had become close to a young woman, Hinde (Helen) Chilewicz. When Gleiwitz was evacuated, Hinde was sent to Ravensbrueck and was liberated during a forced march by Soviet forces in May 1945. She returned to Sosnowiec to search for family. She learned that they had been killed in the camps. She left for Czechoslovakia, then Germany. Helen and William were reunited in October 1945. They married in Weiden displaced persons camp on March 2, 1947. The couple emigrated to the US in 1949.

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Details

  • Title: Blue and gray striped concentration camp uniform jacket worn by a Polish Jewish inmate in several camps
  • Provenance: The concentration camp jacket was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988 by Helen and William Luksenburg.
  • Subject Keywords: Concentration camp inmates--Poland--Biography. Death marches--Germany--Biography. Ex-concentration camp inmates--Germany--Biography. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Poland--Personal narratives, Jewish. Holocaust survivors--United States--Biography. Jewish refugees--Germany--Weiden in der Oberpfalz--Biography. Slave labor--Germany--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Refugees--United States--Personal narratives.
  • Type: Clothing and Dress
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Faded blue and gray vertically striped long sleeved jacket made from wood pulp cloth to resemble wool. The collar has flat ends. A large hole has been worn through the back neck and collar which are extremely faded; the interior is unfaded. The front opening has 5 beaded metal buttons, one brass colored, the other silver, and 5 button holes. There are vertical seams on the front and back, left and right of center, where the jacket was taken in. All hems are machine sewn and finished, except the interior sleeve seam. The cloth is stained.

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