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Yad Vashem And These are Their Names... Identifying the Death March Victims Buried in a Mass Grave in Poland

Blanket Used by Helena Hamermesch (née Rosenberg) to Cover Herself During a Death March from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen

Before the war, Helena lived in Eastern Galicia. She was deported from Munkács to Auschwitz, where she worked as a slave laborer. Towards the evacuation of the camp in January 1945, Helena was put to work sorting out the possessions of the Jewish prisoners and victims. As they were about to leave on the death march, the kapo allowed her to take a blanket with her. The female prisoners were sent out in two groups, one to Ravensbrueck and the other to Bergen-Belsen. Helena prepared two bags – one for her friend who was sent to Ravensbrueck and the other for herself. The packages contained descriptions of their lives in Block 10 and of Mengele, as well as a capsule containing phenol, a poisonous substance.

At Bergen-Belsen, Helena was thrown with the dead and dying onto a pile of bodies. She was saved by a British doctor who insisted on treating her. The bag remained with her, and she used it to give testimony at the trial at Lunenberg at the end of the war. She made use of the blanket during her stay at the DP camp in Bergen-Belsen, and kept it with her when she arrived in Eretz Israel.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection Gift of Helena Hamermesch (née Rosenberg),
Hod Hasharon, Israel