Auschwitz Museum Worker Discovers Identifying Inscription in Children’s Shoes

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)

An exceptional discovery was made during conservation works on shoes belonging to victims of the German Nazi Auschwitz camp, which are on display at the permanent exhibition, the Auschwitz Museum said.

The discoveries were made in the course of efforts to preserve the shoes on display at the museum.

One inscription identified a shoe as belonging to Amos Steinberg, who was born in Prague in 1938 and imprisoned with his parents in the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942. He was later sent to Auschwitz. On August 10, 1942, he was incarcerated along with his parents Ludwig (Ludvík) and Ida in the Theresienstadt ghetto near Prague. They were all deported to Auschwitz.

“From surviving documents, it follows that the mother and her son were deported to Auschwitz in the same transport on October 4, 1944. It is likely that they were both murdered in the gas chamber after selection. We may presume that she was most likely the one who ensured that her child’s shoe was signed. The father was deported in another transport. We know that he was transferred from Auschwitz to Dachau on October 10, 1944. He was liberated in the Kaufering sub-camp,” said Hanna Kubik from the Museum Collections.

In total, the Germans transferred 24 transports of over 46,000 Jews from the Theresienstadt ghetto to Auschwitz. About 18,000 of them were placed in a special family camp in section BIIb of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp.

In another shoe, however, they came across documents in Hungarian. “We already have shoes with such findings in our collections, but these are mainly newspapers, which were often used as insoles or additional insulation. This find is precious and interesting because the documents have been preserved in good condition and they contain dates, names of the persons concerned and handwritten captions. They date back to 1941 and 1942,” added Kubik.

These documents belonged to people probably living in Munkacs and Budapest. “Some of them are official documents, a fragment of a brochure and a piece of paper with a name. The names Ackermann, Brávermann and Beinhorn appear in the find. They were probably deported to Auschwitz in the spring or summer of 1944 during the extermination of Hungarian Jews. I hope that more in-depth research will allow us to determine the details of the individuals. The discovered documents will be preserved and sent to the Collection along with the shoe,” emphasized Kubik.

The first transports of Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz on April 28 and 29, 1944 from the Kistarcsa camp near Budapest and the town of Topolya in Vojvodina. The main phase of deportation began on May 14 and lasted until July 9, 1944. During this period, 142 trains arrived at Auschwitz with a total of about 420,000 deportees. If we add to this number the transports from April and some smaller ones in late summer and fall 1944, then the total number of deportees from Hungary stands at about 430,000. Shortly upon arrival at Auschwitz, 325,000 to 330,000 people lost their lives in the gas chambers, accounting for over 75% of the deported Jews from Hungary.

Hashem yinkom damam!