Germany - Third Reich
Concentration camp inmate’s cap
In early 1945, Count Folke Bernadotte, chairman of the Swedish Red Cross, negotiated the release of Scandinavian prisoners held in German concentration camps with Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. During the spring of 1945, Scandinavians were transferred from other camps to Neuengamme, just south of Hamburg, and in early March, 36 white busses drove down through Denmark to the camp, accompanied by tow-trucks and other auxiliary vehicles - plus 40,000 liters of precious gasoline. In all roughly 20,000 former prisoners were rescued through this and subsequent operations. The cap shown here was kept as a souvenir by one of the Swedes who took part in the rescue—or at least I’ve been told. A former Buchenwald prisoner, who was rescued by the white busses, thinks its a fake, although another survivor from Stutthof tells me this cap features his camp’s particular pattern and vouches for its sad heritage. At any rate, many thanks to Christer in Sweden for making this interesting contribution. For more information about this dramatic rescue, you’ll find an excellent Swedish site here.

The white busses in Germany in 1945.