Warsaw -- Hundreds of personal items likely to have belonged to Hungarian Jews who perished at the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland have been uncovered at the site, experts said Monday.
"Several hundred objects, including some with inscriptions in Hungarian, have been found during conservation work near Crematorium Number Three," one of locations where the Nazis burned their victims' corpses, said Jaroslaw Mensfelt, spokesman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum. "There are spectacles, medication, jewels, broken bottles and plates, the kind of personal items the prisoners were allowed to take with them.”
Jews sent to the death camp were permitted to carry personal items as part of the Nazis' plan to trick them into believing they were being resettled.
The illusion was maintained until the end, as the deportees were sent to what they were told were shower blocks but were in fact the camp's notorious gas chambers.
"These items are particularly moving," said Igor Bartosik, director of the museum's collections, in a statement. "They carry the most direct kind of mark: their owners kept hold of them until the last moments of their life.”
The Hungarian-language inscriptions are a clear sign that the items' owners arrived at the camp in 1944, when the Holocaust intensified.
Although Hungary was a World War II ally of Germany, it held back from helping the Nazis in their plan to exterminate Europe's Jews. But Germany turned on Hungary in 1944, and a new pro-Nazi Budapest government began cooperating.
Between May and July 1944, around 430,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to the camp.
The newly-discovered items will undergo conservation work before being put on display at the museum.
The Nazis initially set up the camp for Polish resistance fighters, nine months after invading Poland in September 1939.
Around 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1945 -- one million of them Jews from Poland and elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe -- some from overwork, starvation and disease, but most in the notorious gas chambers.
It was one of six death camps set up in Poland -- home to pre-war Europe's largest Jewish community -- by the occupying Germans, who murdered six million Jews during the war.