Symbol of horror: Auschwitz tattoo goes up for sale at auction in Jerusalem

The tools used to tattoo prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust are for sale at the Jerusalem auction house, to be sold to the highest bidder.

Tzolman’s Auctions, a relatively new auction house primarily focused on selling ancient Jewish texts and historical documents, Judaica, is selling a set of original needle stamps used to tattoo Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz. The auction can be found here.

Many people have asked the auction house to cancel the auction and donate the artifacts to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. However, Meir Tzolman, the owner of the auction house, said he sees no reason to do so.

“I feel that by making this sale, I have great credit in helping to raise awareness of the suffering of Holocaust survivors,” said Tzolman. “Over the past few days, I’ve had a lot of phone calls from people wanting to bid on the set to donate to a museum. I hope that ultimately this is a win-win situation, where the owner gets a good price. for her, and that she will find a home in a museum where she can give due respect to her history. “

Tzolman said he received the game from a private individual in the United States, who had received it over time from the concentration camp.

The set includes the marketing material and the instructions manual for the seals, produced by the German company Aesculap.

“Remember what Amalek did to you, don’t forget!” the text on the auction page begins, recalling a biblical passage that requires Jews to maintain an eternal watch against their enemies.

“The collection of stamps that we have before us symbolizes more than any other element of the Holocaust the most horrible tragedy facing our people who have known many horrors,” proclaims the page. “There is hardly a person on earth who has not been exposed to the shocking numbers tattooed in bluish ink on the arm of the Auschwitz survivors, the numbers that tell the story of the terrifying and systematic extermination, and the way they were treated as less than animals. “

The set is part of many hundreds of Judaica products that will be sold at auction on November 9. The price was set at $ 1,400 as of Tuesday morning, and the auction house said it expected it to sell for $ 30,000 – $ 40,000.

According to the auction house, the set for sale is the third collection of its kind in the world known to have survived WWII. The other two are in the Military Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in the museum that operates on the memorial site where the Auschwitz camp was located. This collection, with eight different stamps, is twice the size of either of the other two sets.

When the Auschwitz Museum received the set of four tattoo stamps from an anonymous donor in 2014, the museum’s director, Piotr. Tsivinski told the British Telegraph newspaper, “We never believed that we would get the original tools used to tattoo prisoners after so long. These stamps will become a valuable display item at future exhibitions. The appearance of these tattoos is increasingly rare, with deaths of former prisoners, but the stamps will continue to express the dramatic story here, even after so many years. “

Author Yechiel De-Nur described the terrible humiliation the tattooed owners experienced: “Thirty years since my meat was burned, I made sure that I was not seen by a stranger. For thirty years there has been no short-sleeved shirt in my closet. , and during the long summer months in the sunny country, I always had a towel hanging from my left arm (…) However, it always seems to me that everyone’s gaze is focused on my left arm, because I have never adapted to this. number, which burns not only in my flesh but also in my soul. To this day, I can never remember what the number is, and I would have to look at my arm to say it. ”

The Nazis began tattooing prisoners at Auschwitz in the fall of 1941, using a metal mold about an inch and a half long in which needles are arranged in the shape of numbers. The Nazis used the metal stamps by inserting them into a wooden mold, whereby the needles were pressed into the skin of the prisoners, and immediately after their removal, ink was smeared into the bleeding holes.

Initially, only numbers were tattooed, but as more prisoners were brought in, the Nazis began to use letters as well from May 13, 1944. Male Jewish prisoners were placed in Series A, and then Series B afterwards. that those numbers were sold out. 20,000 prisoners for each series. With the liberation of the camp on January 27, 1945 and the defeat of Germany, the letter C was not used. However, a stamp with a C appears in the auction house collection, “apparently in preparation for the next stage. of the extermination of the Jews of the world, which was prevented by the grace of heaven. “

Aesculap, the company that produced the stamps, was a large company founded in 1867 to produce fine surgical instruments. During both world wars, he also manufactured weapon components for the German war machine. Today, the company has about 4,000 employees and annual sales of close to two billion euros. In the instruction manual accompanying the stamps, the company describes the set as designated for livestock markings, although the size of the numbers used is much smaller than those used for livestock and is clearly designed for use in humans. said the auction house.

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