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Your favourite item with a story

Article about: Carl, I have another item relating to a camp survivor. Mine is of course, my SS Totenkopf, as you see in my display picture. Apologies to those who've read this before! I purchased it from t

  1. #11

    Default Re: Your favourite item with a story

    Carl, I have another item relating to a camp survivor. Mine is of course, my SS Totenkopf, as you see in my display picture. Apologies to those who've read this before!

    I purchased it from the nephew of the British soldier named Harold Belson, who brought it back from the war. I had no idea it's history was known until I casually asked after buying it. This is what he told me-

    'Hi Mathew,

    Just to reiterate what I mentioned before.

    I was given this badge in 1953 by an uncle who served in the Royal Engineers and was in action in France and Germany. From what I was told and he didn’t like talking about it but in his words. He was sent to Belsen to undertake a clean up operation which included maintenance on bulldozers which were used to bury bodies. Whilst he was there one of the inmates came over to him and pressed your badge into his hand and said,”This is token for you to keep.” My uncle felt so sorry for him he gave him his leather jerkin which is a sleeveless leather jacket that the engineers used to wear and told the man your one of us now so you can help me out. My uncle insists because he gave the man something to do, a purpose, it kept that man alive. My uncle was only there for two days and he was moved on but he said it took a week to get the smell out of his clothes and never knew whether the man survived.

    Sorry this is such a sad story but that’s how my uncle got the badge. When he gave it to me, my first thought was it might be a pirates badge and as a child whenever we played pirates I was always the captain cos I had the real pirates badge.
    All the Best, '


    I find the story incredibly poignant, and somewhat symbolic, that a freed prisoner of the Nazi Regime came to possess this badge. I wonder sometimes exactly how and why they decided to take the insignia- if they took it directly from a guard, or perhaps raided it from the SS uniform store (I've read an account of freed prisoners plundering the gear and walking around the camp in SS uniform!). Did they take the cap or just the insignia? Did they take it initially as something to sell or trade? Or as trophy of their survival and the fall of their oppressors? Regardless, I find the exchange between the man and the soldier touching- it's a dark item with an aspect of hope surrounding it.

    It's by far the most precious thing I own, for the significance and personal history attached, and I think it always will be.

    Mat
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    Last edited by ToxicGas; 02-27-2012 at 02:38 AM.

  2. #12
    ?

    Default Re: Your favourite item with a story

    Thank you for sharing that story with us Mat, I obviously noticed your avatar picture, but I hadn't heard where you acquired the piece.

    Cheers,

    Carl
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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