MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

News

Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered

bb
11-03-2014

Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered Metal stamps used for tattooing Auschwitz prisoners entered the collection of the Auschwitz Museum. The German Nazi concentration and extermination camp was the only one where prisoner camp numbers were tattooed.

Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered“We acquired removable metal plates with a-few-millimetre-long needles, which were inserted into a special stamp to create a specific number. The finding, collected in the area of the camp evacuation route, is incomplete; it consists of one zero digit, two threes and two stamps which may be sixes or nines,” said Elżbieta Cajzer, Head of the Museum Collections.

The only known example of a tool for tattooing camp numbers so far is stored at the Military Medical Museum in Saint Petersburg. Its replica is presented at the national Russian exhibition “Tragedy. Valour. Liberation.” in Block 14 of the former Auschwitz I camp.

Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered“It is one of the most important findings of the recent years. We couldn't believe that original tools for tattooing prisoners could be discovered after such a long time,” emphasised Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz Museum. “Even a tattooed number is rare to be seen now as the last prisoners pass away. Those stamps will greatly enrich the new main exhibition that is currently being prepared,” he added.

Tattoo in AuschwitzTattooing camp numbers in Auschwitz started in autumn 1941. The camp authorities decided to use it to identify Soviet prisoners of war. The number was tattooed on the left side of a prisoner's chest using a metal stamp to which removable plates with needles were inserted, constituting specific digits. A single blow with an inked stamp to the chest sufficed to impress the whole number.

Since spring 1942, authorities at the camp ordered tattooing the number on the left forearm, even though the practice of tattooing numbers on the chest was still continued. Needles fixed on a wooden shaft and soaked in ink began to be used for puncturing the skin to form digits.

Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered
Stamps for...
Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered
Stamps for...
Stamps for tattooing prisoners discovered
Stamps for...
Tattoo in Auschwitz
Tattoo in Auschwitz