ID tags of murdered children unearthed at Sobibor death camp

Seventy-eight years after the notorious Nazi death camp closed, archaeologists uncover ID tags of children murdered in the camp.

By World Israel News Staff

An Israeli archeological team working at the infamous Sobibor extermination camp where the Nazis murdered a quarter of a million people unearthed the identity tags worn by four young Jewish children deported by the Nazis, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.

The personal identity tags made of metal belonged to four Dutch children aged 5–to-11 from Amsterdam and were retrieved from archaeological excavations conducted at the camp. The tags were worn like pendants around the neck and bear their names, date of birth and the name of their home town.

The archaeological dig is being carried out prior to the construction of the new visitors center at the camp by a team from Israel, Poland and Holland.

The tags appear to have been made by the parents of Lea Judith De La Penha, Deddie Zak, Annie Kapper, and David Juda Van der Velde.

“As far as we know, identity tags with children’s names have only been found at Sobibor, and nowhere else,” said Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi. “The children’s identity tags were prepared by their parents, who were probably desperate to ensure that the children’s relatives could be located in the chaos of the Second World War.”

“Lea, Annie and Deddie’s tags have enabled us to link faces and stories to the names, which until now had only been anonymous entries in Nazi lists. Archaeological excavation provides us with an opportunity to tell the victims’ stories and to honor their memory,” Haimi added.

Deddie was deported to the camp on the so-called Kindertransport, named after the large number of children it carried to their death. About a third of the 3,017 Jews deported to Sobibor from the Vught Via Westerbork concentration camp were children aged 4–to-8, many of them without parents. Deddie, 8 years old, was murdered with his family when they reached Sobibor camp on June 11, 1943.

“I have been excavating this site for 10 years, but today I broke down,” Haimi said. “We stood with the tags in the field, near the incinerators, called the center, and gave them the names. The response was immediate. We received photos of young, smiling children on our phones.”

“The hardest part was hearing that one of the children whose tag we were holding in our hand, arrived in Sobibor in a delivery of children aged 4 to 8 who were sent here to die alone. I looked at the pictures and asked myself – how can anyone be so cruel?”