Donated by Olga Horak (née Rosenberger)
This blanket was thrown over 18 year old Olga Rosenberger’s skeleton-like body in Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp by Etta, a Kapo from Auschwitz who Olga knew from her hometown. Olga kept the blanket, as it was all she had to cover her body when she was liberated and returned to Czechoslovakia.
“I was liberated from Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945 by British and Canadian soldiers. I was sick with typhus and my weight was 29kg. People did not know how to respond; some laughed, some cried, some screamed. It should have been a happy day but for me it was one of the saddest. Tragically my mother died that day while standing at a table, waiting to get a displaced person’s card. They carried her out on a stretcher and I never saw her again. I was determined to survive in order to bear witness.” Olga Horak (née Rosenberger)
The blanket is a unique item in our collection.
It underwent testing in 1997 at the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research in Sydney. Examination confirmed that it consists of a mix of mainly animal and human hairs.
In many concentration camps hair was routinely shorn from prisoners, usually on arrival. The Nazi war machine used hair to make fabrics and textile products for the car industry, army blankets, socks for U-boat crews and gasket materials.