• Germany's news in English

Prisoner tattoo stamps emerge at Auschwitz

AFP · 14 Mar 2014, 06:47

Published: 14 Mar 2014 06:47 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A donor insisting on anonymity handed over the stamps to the memorial museum at the site of the World War II-era camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland. "We obtained the stamps a couple of weeks ago and have confirmed their authenticity," Bartosz Bartyzel, a spokesman for the museum, said on Thursday.

"There are five stamps including one zero, two threes and two sixes or nines," he said, adding that Auschwitz was the only Nazi German camp to use tattoos to identify prisoners.

The find is rare. The only other known tool to tattoo camp prisoners is stored at the Military Medical Museum in Saint Petersburg, according to the Auschwitz museum.

The stamps were discovered in the "area of one of the evacuation routes" the Nazis used in January 1945 to move tens of thousands of prisoners to the west of Auschwitz as Soviet troops zeroed in on the camp from the east, Bartyzel said.

The routes stretched 50 to 60 kilometres north and south from the camp to the towns of Gliwice and Wodzislaw, according to a map on the museum website.

The museum said it would not be providing further details, to preserve the donor's anonymity.

After invading Poland in 1939, Nazi Germany set up the camp at a former army barracks in the city of Oswiecim, or Auschwitz in German.

It has become an enduring symbol of Germany's genocide of European Jews. One million were killed there from 1940 to 1945.

More than 100,000 others including non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and anti-Nazi partisans also died at Auschwitz.

"As the number of survivors dwindles, this kind of discovery is invaluable. It's a testimony to what happened here," Bartyzel said.

The Nazis began using tattoos when other methods of identifying prisoners – including numbered uniforms – failed, Bartyzel said.

Story continues below…

Soviet prisoners of war were the first to get tattooed in 1941. The practice was expanded to the rest of the camp the following year.

The Nazis pressed the needle-studded plates into an inmate's skin, before rubbing ink into the wound to create the tattoo. They first tattooed chests, then later left forearms.

The stamps will be stored in the museum's archives before going on display in a few years in a new exhibition.

SEE ALSO: Germany commemorates victims of Nazism

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd