Remember Lea, Deddie, Annie and David – children’s ID tags found at Sobibor
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Remember Lea, Deddie, Annie and David – children’s ID tags found at Sobibor

Harrowing details of four youngsters aged between six and 12 reduces archaeologists to tears during excavation of infamous site in Poland.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Archaeologists working at the Sobibor death camp in Poland have made a harrowing discovery, which reduced them to tears — finding identity tags worn by four Jewish children from Amsterdam.

Yoram Haimi, from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, works on a team with Polish archaeologist Wojciech Mazurek and Holland’s Ivan Schute. The three, together with local residents, are involved in an excavation at Sobibor prior to the construction of a new visitors centre at the camp.

The children, aged six to 12, whose identity tags were found, were Lea Judith De La Penha, Deddie Zak, Annie Kapper, and David Juda Van der Velde.

Yoram Haimi said: “As far as we know, identity tags with childrens names have only been found at Sobibor, and nowhere else. Since the tags are very different from each other, it is evident that this was probably not some organised effort. The childrens identity tags were prepared by their parents, who were probably desperate to ensure that the childrens relatives could be located in the chaos of the Second World War. Lea, Annie and Deddies 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 victimsstories and to honour their memory.”

1,300 little children, aged four to eight, were sent here to die alone on one transport, without their parents.

The archaeologists made their grim discovery and, while still holding the dirt-encrusted tags, contacted the archive of the former transit camp, Westerbork, which now serves as a memorial site and visitor centre in Holland. All the children whose tags were found were deported via the Westerbork camp.

Mr Haimi recalled: “I have been excavating at Sobibor for ten years, but this is the hardest day I have ever had. As we stood holding the tags in the field, beside the crematoria, we contacted the centre and we gave them the names. They responded immediately. By phone, we received photos of smiling young children. The hardest thing was to learn that some of the children whose tags we held in our hands reached Sobibor on a childrens transport– 1,300 little children, aged four to eight, who were sent here to die alone, without their parents. I looked at the photos and asked myself, how could anyone have been so cruel?”

Lea died aged six, and her aluminium tag was found near Sobibor’s railway platform. Deddie’s tag was found in one of the crematoria at the death camp; he was eight. Annie was deported, with her family, in April 1943, and all the Dutch Jews on that transport were murdered in Sobibor’s gas chambers. Annie was 12. And David’s broken identity tag, found near those gas chambers, led to the discovery that he had been 11 when he was murdered, with his family, on April 2 1943.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments