Camp coat

Concentration Camp Prisoner’s Coat
Nazi-occupied Europe
1939-1945
Fabric, buttons

On permanent loan from the Friedman family – Edward, Judith, Benjamin, and Jacob

The uniforms received by prisoners reduced people to an inhuman, indistinct mass. The highly visible and distinctive colors made any attempt to escape extremely difficult. Each striped uniform had a badge indicating the prisoner’s category and an identification number. Once the number was received, a person was known by their number rather than their name.

Many surviving coats show signs of possible alteration, which was common among prisoners. The visible stitching on the left side of the chest is where the identifying badges were sewn on.

This coat has been authenticated, but the provenance is unknown. There are signs that the wearer had a special status in the camps. Uniforms with pockets were considered a luxury, as they could be used to conceal extra rations. This coat is also made with a thicker fabric than the standard-issue concentration camp uniform.

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