Israel expels Auschwitz exhibit after claims museum owns names in tattoo kit list

(Story first published in the Jerusalem Post) The State of Israel has seized and confiscated the alleged list of tattoo kits used at the Auschwitz death camp after a Central European laboratory had claimed ownership of the items.

Israeli police confiscated the list, which is believed to be among the most important historical artifacts in Israel. They believe the list was discovered in a container in the museum’s catalog. The list, in part handwritten, allegedly names German and Auschwitz staff who supplied products that would be used to tattoo Jews and other prisoners at the infamous Nazi death camp.

Items at Auschwitz were made available to prisoners to help identify them during their detention. The products were mostly used by Nazi tattooist Rudolf Hoess, who led the camp. The kits were supplied by scientists and tattoo specialists from the so-called Brinkmann Institute in Rotterdam, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Augsburg Institute of History held public exhibits over the years to depict what was actually used on prisoners, but was forced to retire in 1990.

Many of the names on the list originally came from the archives of the newly established Central European University in Krakow, Poland. That country’s National Museum specializes in Nazi-occupied studies.

The list will be stored by the National Museum in Poland, which until two weeks ago said it had no right to possess it. The museum added that it would not reveal what it plans to do with the listing until it concludes its legal consultations.

Israel’s high court has barred the museum from sharing the list with any other institutions or researchers. The list has since been placed in storage at the Horeb Branch of the Supreme Court of Israel.

The list, which includes 228 names, includes 130 locations which have been eliminated since the list was written in 1943. However, the list still lists seven locations at the camp, including the roof of what is now the Schloss Isenstadt-Morange and the entrance to a barracks. The list also says that 30 men were named on the list who later died at Auschwitz and had their names tattooed.

The Auschwitz museum does not disclose its records or scrapbooks containing the lists of detainees to make research more efficient.

The list has been recovered twice over the years — first by Israeli troops during World War II and then in 1988 when a contractor buying the material from the Brinkmann Institute for the Polish National Museum removed it from the museum and later sent it to the museum in Poland.

In January, Ohio-based medical technology company Transcutis Inc. sued the National Museum of Labor Histories, Poland, and the Auschwitz museum. The company has until May 18 to respond to the ruling by the Israeli court.

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