Four eyeglass lenses recovered from Chelmno killing center
a: Height: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Width: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm)
b: Height: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm) | Width: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Depth: 0.125 inches (0.318 cm)
c: Diameter: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
d: Depth: 0.125 inches (0.318 cm) | Diameter: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
The eyeglass lenses were 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
Four eyeglass lenses, 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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a. Subcircular, convex eyeglass lens. The edge is beveled outwards on both sides. The front side of the lens is scratched with embedded dirt, and both sides have light layers of patination. b. Wedge-shaped fragment of a circular eyeglass lens. The fragment is approximately one-third of the lens, with two broken edges meeting at a point and projecting outwards to the intact, rounded edge. The edge is beveled outwards on both sides, forming a V-shaped profile. The glass is thickest at the edge, and thins at the point. Both sides of the lens are scratched and have light layers of patination. c. Circular, convex eyeglass lens. The edge is beveled outwards on both sides. There is a large chip on the edge and a small chip on the opposite edge. Both sides of the lens are scratched and have a light patina. d. Circular eyeglass lens. The edge is beveled outwards on both sides, and is warped, undulating all the way around. There is a large chip on one side of the edge, and smaller chips on the front surface. Both sides of the lens are scratched and have light layers of patination.