The Hidden Treasure in an Auschwitz Artifact

Curators have discovered jewelry in the false bottom of a mug on display at the Auschwitz Museum.

The electric barbed-wired fences at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (Kacper Pempel / Reuters)

Auschwitz Museum staffers have discovered a woman’s gold ring and necklace in the false bottom of a mug, one of tens of thousands of enameled kitchenware looted by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The jewelry was found while museum employees were conducting conservation work on the mug, which was on display. Over the years, the false bottom had eroded and separated from the mug. After X-ray and other testing, staff found the jewelry wrapped in a cloth.

Piotr Cywinski, the director of Auschwitz Museum, said in a statement Tuesday:

The hiding of valuable items—repeatedly mentioned in the accounts of survivors, and which was the reason for ripping and careful search of clothes and suitcases in the warehouse for looted items—proves on the one hand the awareness of the victims as to the robbery nature of the deportation, but on the other hand it shows that the Jewish families constantly had a ray of hope that these items will be required for their future existence.

The owner of the jewelry is not known. Curators say it was produced in Poland between 1921 and 1931. The museum honors the 1.1 million prisoners, mostly Jewish, who were killed in the Nazi death camp located in occupied Poland.