Concentration camp uniform likely acquired postwar by Natan Caron
a: Height: 26.125 inches (66.358 cm) | Width: 16.375 inches (41.593 cm)
b: Height: 25.625 inches (65.088 cm) | Width: 15.625 inches (39.688 cm)
Natan Chorowicz was born on March 10, 1923, in Warsaw, Poland, to Abraham and Ryfka Czakow Chorowicz. Abraham was born on March 28, 1900, in Warsaw, to Mordka and Pesa Kleinman Chorowicz. Abraham had five sisters and two brothers. Ryfka was born in 1901 in Warsaw, to Noach and Mindla Czakow. She had ten siblings. Ryfka’s parents were killed during World War I. In 1922, Abraham moved to Brussels and worked as a cabinet maker. Six months after Natan was born, Ryfka took him to Brussels. Natan had a sister, Marie, who was born on November 26, 1926, in Brussels. Abraham moved his siblings and mother to Brussels from 1924 to 1928. In 1930, Abraham opened a factory that produced seltzer, lemonade, and beer. The family was Jewish and spoke French and Yiddish. Natan attended private school and was a good student. He did not experience anti-Semitism. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. The Chorowicz family fled Brussels to the French border, unaware that France was also being invaded. The family was caught between the German and British armies near Dunkirk and sent back to Brussels by German troops. Belgium surrendered on May 28. The Germans began gradually restricting Jewish civil rights. Natan joined the underground movement in 1940. He painted anti-German slogans on walls and put clandestine English newspapers in mailboxes at night. In spring 1942, Natan attempted to get false identity papers to flee to Switzerland, but the man he was working with was arrested in April. Natan hid in a small room in Brussels at night and saw his parents and friends in the day. On June 13, 1942, Jews were forced to wear Star of David patches. On June 26, Natan and Abraham were arrested. They were deported to Dannes-Camiers labor camp, near Calais in northern France. They worked on coastal fortifications. On October 31, 1942, the laborers were deported to Malines transit camp in Belgium. They stayed on the train in Mechelen and more people were added, forming transports 16 and 17. They were given no food or water. One of Natan’s friends hanged himself on the first night. On November 3, they arrived in Auschwitz. Natan and Abraham were selected for labor. Natan was tattooed with prisoner number 72363 and Abraham with 72364. They were forced into showers, then had to run naked to a barrack in block ten. The following morning, they were given their uniforms. After a few days, Natan was separated from Abraham and sent to Jawischowitz, a subcamp of Auschwitz built around a mine. He worked the night shift, digging for new buildings and shoveling gravel. He had a rotten tooth that the camp doctor agreed to pull out when his face became swollen. Instead of allowing the Jewish dentist to do it, the head doctor decided to try and broke Natan’s tooth four times before getting it out. Natan immediately had to go to work, where he fell behind and was lashed 25 times. In 1943, he caught malaria. A Polish worker agreed to get Natan quinine in exchange for shoes. There were constant beatings and barely any food. Natan improved his situation when he convinced the Germans that he was a carpenter because he had assisted Abraham when he was a cabinet maker. Natan smuggled tools back into the camp and traded them for bread with one of the guards. He also got several of his friends positions in carpentry. They did not work when they were not being watched and destroyed tools when possible. Natan was injured when he fell off scaffolding and hurt his kidney, but his friends helped him walk to work. On January 18, 1945, Jawischowitz was evacuated. The inmates were sent on a forced march and anyone who stopped walking was shot. In Gleiwitz, Silesia (Gliwice, Poland), they were forced into snow filled, open train cars with two armed SS guards and deported to Buchenwald. Of the 50 inmates in Natan’s train car, only 17 survived. Upon arrival on January 22, Natan was assigned prisoner number 117583. After a week, Natan was sent to labor in Ohrdruf, a subcamp of Buchenwald. After a few days, he was sent to Crawinkel, a subcamp of Ohrdruf, where he made tunnels for V1 rockets using sledgehammers and dynamite. They slept in bunkers and there was no sanitation and barely any food. After about six weeks, Natan was transferred to another subcamp of Ohrdruf, Espenfeld, where they did similar work but slept in tents. The conditions were so bad that several people died every night. Espenfeld was evacuated in late March and the inmates were sent on a forced march. On the way, one of Natan’s friends was run over by a tank. They arrived in Buchenwald in April. Buchenwald was being evacuated in the days after Natan returned, but he was not selected to leave. On April 11, 1945, Natan was liberated by the US Army. He befriended a Jewish lieutenant from New York, who gave Natan his rations. Natan repatriated to Belgium on April 30, 1945. Germany surrendered on May 7. Abraham returned in summer 1945. On December 18, 1943, Abraham had been transferred to Golleschau, a subcamp of Auschwitz that produced cement. On January 22, 1945, he was sent Sachsenhausen concentration camp and assigned prisoner number 130036. On February 17, 1945, Abraham was sent to Mauthausen and assigned prisoner number 130481. He was liberated in Mauthausen on May 5, 1945. Natan and Abraham learned that Ryfka and Marie has been arrested and sent to Mechelen transit camp in January 1943. They were deported to Auschwitz on January 15, 1943, on transport 18, and killed upon arrival. Abraham’s mother and siblings were also deported to Auschwitz and killed. None of Ryfka’s family members in Poland survived. Abraham was ill and lived in a convalescent home. Natan worked as a tailor to support himself and his father. Later in 1945, Natan met Estera, who was born on August 27, 1929, in Siedlce, Poland, and had survived the Holocaust in hiding in the Belgian countryside. They married in 1947. Abraham remained in the home until approximately 1950 and died in the 1950’s. Natan and Estera had a son in 1951. They immigrated to the United States on December 15, 1958, and settled in Orange, CA. Natan worked as a tailor. Natan and Estera became naturalized American citizens May 10, 1968, and changed their names to Natan and Estelle Caron. Natan, age 89, died on April 15, 2012.
The concentration camp uniform was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Michael and Debi Caron, the son and daughter-in-law of Nathan Caron.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Michael and Debi Caron
Funding Note: The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Concentration camp uniform likely acquired after the war by Natan Caron, who at age 20 was deported from Belgium and imprisoned in several concentration camps from 1942 to 1945. He described this uniform as nearly identical to the one he was issued in Auschwitz concentration camp. Natan used it during talks he gave to educate people about the Holocaust. When Germany invaded Belgium on May 10, 1940, Natan, parents Abraham and Ryfka, and sister Marie, 14, lived in Brussels. On June 26, 1942, Abraham and Natan were deported to Dannes-Camiers labor camp in northern France. On October 31, they were deported to Auschwitz via Malines. Natan was assigned prisoner number 72363 and selected to labor in Jawischowitz, a subcamp of Auschwitz built around a coal mine. On January 15, 1943, Ryfka and Marie were deported to Auschwitz and killed upon arrival. On December 18, 1943, Abraham was sent to Golleschau slave labor camp. As the Soviets approached in January 1945, Natan was sent on a forced march to Buchenwald and assigned prisoner number 117583. He was transported to Ohrdruf, Crawinkel, and Espenfeld subcamps, before being sent back to Buchenwald. Natan was liberated in Buchenwald by the US Army on April 11, 1945, and repatriated to Belgium later that month. Abraham was sent to Sachsenhausen, then Mauthausen, liberated on May 5, 1945, and repatriated to Brussels.
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a. Blue and white, vertically striped, hip-length jacket with long sleeves, and a pointed collar. The woven rayon cloth is lightweight and the stripes woven into the material. The collar has corroded metal hook and eye closure at the front, and a cloth hanging loop inside the back neck. The front opening has a five- button placket with five finished buttonholes on the left and five, postwar, white buttons on the right: two made of mother of pearl, and three made of plastic. There is a single, welt pocket on each side near the waist and one, smaller pocket on the wearer’s left breast. The hems and seams are machine finished. Two letters are hand-stitched in red thread at the back of the inner collar. The cloth is stained with small, reddish spots on the front and a larger gray spot inside at the lower back. b. Blue and white, vertically striped, lightweight cloth pants with a wide waistband and a hidden three-button fly front. The pants have three black, plastic buttons and buttonholes, and two side pockets. Four belt loops are hand-sewn to the band, two of which have darker blue stripes, and are possibly replacements. The back of the waistband has an added narrow strip of the same cloth. There is a narrow, slit pocket on the back of the right leg, with a two-inch wide by six-inch long, light brown, cloth pocket liner. The seams and hems are machine finished, but there are several alterations. The back seam has been taken in, and the pant legs have been made shorter with a hand sewn hem. An insert of brighter blue-striped cloth has been added at the inseam to widen the bottom of each leg. There are several repairs, reddish and gray stains throughout, and the cuffs are frayed.
a. interior, collar, embroidered, red thread : E[O?]