A peculiar triangular pendant probably no longer than an inch in any direction, strikingly similar to a pendant known to be owned by world-known Holocaust victim Anne Frank, was recovered during archaeological excavations of the Sobibor Nazi death camp constructed in the Lublin district of eastern Poland, a camp believed to have murdered 170,000-200,000 Jewish people, Smithsonian Magazine revealed.
“There, along the path to the gas chambers of Sobibor, the pendant belonging to 14-year-old Karoline Cohn was taken, dropped, and remained buried in the ground for over 70 years,” Joel Zisenwine, Director of the Deportations Database Project at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, told the New York Times.
Recovered amidst other various personal items including a Star of David necklace, a timepiece probably belonging to a female, hairpins, and etchings of Moses and the Ten Commandments, the small medal medallion is engraved with the phrase “mazel tov,” Cohn’s birth year of 1929, and her German hometown, “Frankfurt A.M” on one side, and with three Stars of David and a Hebrew letter “hay” chiseled on the other side of the pendant, the Times of Israel elaborated. Some scholars believe the hay represents a belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Karoline was deported to the Minsk ghetto in 1941 before being transported to Sobibor where she may have dropped the pendant along the “road to heaven,” the disturbing name for the road the prisoners were forced to walk, undress, and shave en route to the gas chambers, the Times of Israel continued. The pendant then fell through the rickety floorboards of the prison encampment only to be recovered decades later, which is amazing when you consider the Nazis later did their best to scrub and conceal any evidence the camp ever existed. It is believed upwards of 1.5 million children perished in the Holocaust.
The excavation of the pendant has been a critical piece in reuniting nearly 24 distant relatives of Cohn scattered in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Nicaragua, Japan, and Hong Kong who had not previously known one another, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. Held at her birthplace and the last known address at Thomasiusstraße 10 in Frankfurt au Main, Germany that Cohn inhabited prior to her gruesome deportation, the family reunion also presented a stolpersteine in her honor, which is a stone or brass plaque placed at the last known address of Holocaust victims throughout Europe to honor their lives.
“We had this person who was completely forgotten, even by her surviving relatives,” Chaim Motzen, an Israeli genealogist, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Through this pendant, people are learning about each other and their history, and about Karoline. We now know the fate of Karoline’s cousins, aunts and uncles, many of whom were murdered in the Holocaust - people who were mostly forgotten.”
Though historical records indicate the pendant probably never belonged to Anne Frank herself, the similarities between the two pendants leave historians and scholars wondering if Frank and Cohn were friends, relatives, or otherwise knew one another. The relationship between these two women remains a mystery today.
“This pendant demonstrates once again the importance of archaeological research of the former Nazi death camps,” Yoram Haimi, archaeologist for the Israeli Antiquities Authority, told the Times of Israel. “The moving story of Karoline Cohn is symbolic of the shared fate of the Jews murdered at the camp. It is important to tell the story so that we never forget.”
Written by Erin Parfet