Bent, rusted teaspoon recovered from Chelmno killing center
overall: Height: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Width: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm) | Depth: 5.625 inches (14.287 cm)
The teaspoon was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by the Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie
Metal teaspoon, likely recovered from a temporary pit furnace at Chelmno killing center in German-occupied Poland, during an archaeological excavation in 1986 and 1987. Killing operations at Chelmno commenced on December 8, 1941. Prisoners were taken to a camp at a manor house (Schlosslager) in the village to undress and relinquish their valuables. They were then loaded into a gas van where they were killed. The van was then driven 2.5 miles northwest of the village to a camp in the Rzuchowski forest (Waldlager), where the bodies were dumped into mass graves. The large number of corpses created a threat of disease and discovery by Allied forces, so the bodies were exhumed and burned in seven primitive pit furnaces. In the fall of 1942, the furnaces were replaced with two open-air crematoria consisting of concrete foundations topped by a grate of train rails. In March 1943, transports to Chelmno stopped, and the manor house and open-air crematoria in the forest were demolished. Deportations to Chelmno resumed from June to July 1944, to facilitate the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto. In this second phase, the entire killing process was carried out in the forest camp (Waldlager), necessitating the construction of new buildings. The Germans abandoned the camp on January 17, 1945, having killed over 172,000 people. The excavations of 1986-87, and later work have identified additional furnaces, crematoria, and mass graves at the site.
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Corroded, metal, teaspoon, with an oval-shaped bowl and a flat, narrow, stem connected to the wide end. The stem widens as it nears the handle, which curves into a soft point at the end. The edges of the handle appear to have a bevel, but most of it is obscured by corrosion. The bevel repeats on the underside of the handle. Near the bowl, the stem bends to the side, then twists and bends upwards near where the stem meets the handle. The thin edges of the bowl are warped, and there is a small crack on the edge near where it joins to the stem. A heavy green-brown corrosion covers the entire surface.