Concentration camp uniform pants worn by a Jehovah’s Witness inmate
overall: Height: 24.375 inches (61.913 cm) | Width: 16.125 inches (40.958 cm)
Matthaeus Pibal was born on September 21, 1911, in Tibitsch in the parish of St. Martin am Techelsberg, Austria, to Josef and Barbara Pibal. He lived in Klagenfurt and was a woodworker. In 1938, Matthaeus became a Jehovah’s Witness. He was part of the Techelsburger group and a friend of Johann Stossier. On March 12, 1938, Germany annexed Austria. The Nazi regime actively persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religious convictions led them to refuse to swear loyalty to a worldly government or serve in the armed forces. The Nazi regime regarded this refusal to pledge loyalty to the state, and their missionary activity, as subversive political acts. On April 8, 1940, Matthaeus was arrested, with Stossier, by the Gestapo for speaking in public about the Bible. He refused to recant or violate his beliefs and, on August 10, was sent to Dachau concentration camp in Germany. He was assigned prisoner number 14307. In late summer 1940, Matthaeus was transferred to Sudelfeld SS-Berghaus and Hotel Alpenrose labor camp, a subcamp of Dachau near Bayrischzell. Jehovah’s Witness prisoners worked in construction and upkeep at the Berghaus, a former restaurant that was turned into an SS rest and convalescent home. The nearby Hotel Alpenrose was turned into a hospital. Jehovah’s Witnesses were a preferred group of inmates for labor camps as they generally were obedient workers who did not attempt to escape. On May 6, 1945, Matthaeus was liberated in Sudelfeld by American forces. Germany surrendered the next day. Matthaeus returned to Austria and settled in Portschach am Worthersee.
The pants were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by Matthaeus Pibal.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Matthaeus Pibal
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 pants worn by Matthaeus Pibal, a Jehovah’s Witness who was imprisoned in Dachau and Sudelfeld SS-Berghaus concentration camps from 1940 to 1945. Their beliefs did not permit them to put any authority, such as the state, before God, or serve in the military, and the Nazis saw this as subversive. Matthaeus lived in Austria which was annexed by Nazi Germany in March 1938. On April 8, 1940, Matthaeus was arrested by the Gestapo for speaking in public about the Bible. On August 10, he was sent to Dachau concentration camp in Germany and assigned prisoner number 14307. In late summer 1940, Matthaeus was transferred to Sudelfeld, where he worked in the Berghaus, an SS convalescent home. On May 6, 1945, Matthaeus was liberated in Sudelfeld by American forces.
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Blue and offwhite vertically striped cloth pants with a bronze colored metal waistband button and a 3 button hidden front fly with silver colored metal buttons, finished buttonholes, and a lined placket. The buttons are identical except for the color. There are 2 side slit pockets with finished edges and deep, 11 inch, white cloth interior pouches. The wide waistband has a fishtail back with a high rise. There are 2 silver colored metal suspender buttons on each side of the V notch in the back and 2 on the front left and right. Below the waistband on the back are 2 short straps, 1 with a black painted buckle and the other with newer looking, darker blue cloth, to adjust the waist. The interior waistband is lined with white cloth, with a cloth hanging loop at the back. The seams and hems are neatly machine finished.