Pendant of teen girl possibly linked to Anne Frank found at Sobibor

Archaeologists have discovered a rare and poignant pendant that belonged to a teen girl with a possible connection to Anne Frank in an excavation of the site of the Sobibor death camp. The camp, which was razed to the ground by the Nazis after a daring uprising in October 1943 which saw half the prisoners escape, has been excavated since 2007. Past digs have unearthed the foundations of the gas chambers, the train station platform and a myriad small artifacts, the treasured belongings of Sobibor’s victims.

This year the brief was to excavate the site of where female prisoners were made to strip naked and had their heads shaved before being forced down the “Road to Heaven,” ie, the path to the gas chambers 40 meters (130 feet) south of the undressing and shaving hut. Close to what had once been the entrance of the building, the team discovered some small personal items that probably fell through the floorboards onto the foundations. They include a lady’s watch, a stone pendant, a Star of David necklace and a metal locket covered with glass and painted with a depiction of Moses holding the Ten Commandments on the front the Jewish prayer “Shema” on the back.

One of those artifacts is a little triangular pendant. On one side is engraved the phrase “Mazel Tov” in Hebrew, the city “Frankfurt am Main” in German and the date July 3, 1929. The other side has the Hebrew letter “ה” (“He”), used to symbolize the name of God (“He” stands for “Hashem”, which means “The Name,” so it’s a way of referring to God without using His name), and three Stars of David. It’s very difficult to connect an artifact with one individual of hundreds of thousands of camp victims, the date and city gave researchers a rare opportunity. Yad Vashem researchers were able to pinpoint exactly one person who fit the parameters of the pendant: Karoline Cohn, born in Frankfurt on July 3, 1929, and deported to the Minsk ghetto in November of 1941.

Buoyed by their early military successes in Soviet territories, in October of 1941 the Nazi command began a program of deportations, removing Jews from the Third Reich (Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia) to freshly conquered cities in Eastern Europe. The deportations continued through 1945, targeting big cities which had the largest concentrations of Jews. Frankfurt had the highest percentage of Jews in pre-war Germany (4.7% of the population in 1933, as opposed to Berlin’s 3.8%), so it was a priority. In the less than four years between 1941 and 1945, 10,600 Frankfurt Jews were sent east to concentration camps in 25 deportations. Fewer than 600 Jews from Frankfurt survived the Holocaust, and only nine of the Jews deported from Frankfurt to Minsk lived to see the end of the war.

Karoline Cohn was not one of them. When the Minsk ghetto was liquidated in September of 1943, the 2,000 Jews still living were shipped to almost certain death in Sobibor. Either she or someone else carried her pendant to the camp where it fell through the floorboards of the shaving hut only to be found 70 years later.

In a historical fluke of almost unbelievable proportions, Anne Frank had a pendant exactly like it. The only difference is the dates on the front of the pendants. Anne’s was June 12th, 1929. No other such medallions have been found — before the Sobibor discovery, Anne’s was the only one of its kind known, saved by her cousin Buddy Elias — so they weren’t something produced en masse and widely distributed. Anne was also born in Frankfurt just three weeks before Karoline.

Yad Vashem is reaching out to any surviving family members of the Cohns and Franks in the hope they might be able to establish a clear connection, familial or otherwise. Researchers ask that relatives or members of the public who know anything at all about Karoline or about Sophie Kollmann, who in April 1978 wrote Pages of Testimony about Richard Else Cohn and Karoline Cohn, to contact Yoram Haimi at yoramhi@israntique.org.il.

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Comment by DAVID PAKTER
2017-01-16 04:42:47

Thank you very much for posting this story.
I have collected rare Holocaust Memorabilia throughout my life, especially letters written by countless dozens of individuals who did not survive to witness the Liberation/s of 1945, including members of my own Family.
One of the most unique items in my Collection is a letter written by one of the passengers on the Refugee ship, the STRUMA whose passenger were hoping to reach “Palestine” and thereby escape Hitler’s Gas Chambers. The STRUMA had gotten as far as a port in Turkey when her engines gave out.
Under pressure from the Arabs and British, after being moored in a harbor in Turkey for some time, the Turkish Police towed the STRUMA with her broken engines and no food or water, far out to sea and abandoned the helpless ship and her more than 700 helpless passengers including a huge number of women and young children.
Shortly after being abandoned the helpless ship was sunk by a passing Submarine.
There was only a single Survivor, a seventeen year old boy who was blown into the water by the powerful torpedo fired by the Submarine.
He was later picked up by some passing fishermen and died just a few years ago in his nineties.
All that remains of the STRUMA is the sole surviving post-marked letter that was sent from the doomed ship whilst it was still moored under Military quarantine in the that Turkish port. The writer of this heart breaking letter went down with the ship.

Thank you for recognizing the value and importance of publishing this pathos laden story about the discovery of the Pendant.

It is important that people never Forget those beyond tragic events in History which defy human comprehension.
I very much hope that all your Readers will one day visit Yad Vashem, the amazingly emotionally moving Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem at least once in their lives.
It is an unforgettable human experience.

 
Comment by Frank Ishfurther
2017-01-16 05:02:34

The triangular shape may play a certain role (e.g. the ‘all-seeing God in a triangle’) or may simply have helped to save metal offcuts. Maybe the two girls were born in the same institution or hospital. As far as I could tell, even today newborns in hospitals get some form of marking. Maybe there was some form of Jewish hospital or an individual -possibly with similar ‘Mazel’- specializing in those kinds of amulets.

A few years ago, I remember having been on a flight from Frankfurt to Brussels, and to my surprise there were lots of orthodox Jews in full attire joining me. However, I did not interview them, and their motives to take the trip could have been just anything, but places like Frankfurt and e.g. Antwerp still seem to play a certain role for them.

 
Comment by genie baskir
2017-01-16 09:38:25

How very illustrative that what concluded 75 years ago is still not over. Four years ago I was discovered by and discovered a new cousin, the son of the older half sister my father did not know existed. He thought she was an orphaned cousin who died young. Her gentile father sent her to Palestine but my father was just a little boy when she was in the household for that short time.

I am in possession of my mother’s movie star pictures collected in candy bars that she collected when just a chubby little girl in Ternopol, Poland. After my mother was sent into hiding and the remaining family was disappeared the home was looted. A neighbor had the pictures and some other possessions which he returned to my now teen aged mother when she returned to the city looking for her parents. The neighbor told her to get out and never return or she would be killed by the local folk.

When I presented them to Library of Congress to find out more about where they came from, the photograph curator said he had never seen such candy bar premiums before and had no idea such items existed and proclaimed ignorance on this whole subject. Forty years ago I sent a sample picture to the corporate historian at Cadbury whose candy bars my mother was noshing on every day for years and this individual also had no idea about the pictures which now reside in a an old British army rations tin from February 1945.

The original owners of the Shoah are mostly gone and it is being possessed by and deracinated by those who would corrupt the event and it’s ramification. The current malfeasants would vicariously threaten Jewish safety while at the same time proclaiming Jewish affinity and even marrying into Judaism.
Historians and researchers must protect the victims’ stories while we still can.

Thank you for giving me this ability to relate a story.

 
Comment by Chloe
2017-01-16 12:20:39

Thank you for sharing this story.

 
Comment by Otto Frank
2017-01-16 15:23:41

And now all of a sudden it is 100% Karoline Cohn’s pendant. Just because it’s a nice story and is probable it is PROOF. :skull:

 
Comment by Emily
2017-01-16 17:56:47

Thank you for posting this poignant story. It is most extraordinary. Again, many thanks.

 
Comment by Hels
2017-01-16 20:16:04

Where did the pendants (and any other historical relics) go, after they were located in the 2007 digs?

 
Comment by Pawel
2017-01-17 08:42:53

They are probably kept at the Sobibor Muzeum/Memorial http://www.sobibor-memorial.eu/en

 
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