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ViewMate Posting VM 73562

Submitted by Paulette Bronstein

Information Picture Question
Category: Photo Identification
Approval Date: 6/5/2019 4:35 PM
Family Surname: ROSENZWAIG/FASS/HIRSCH
Country: Germany
Town: BERGEN-BELSEN
Date of Image: May 2019
Click the picture to enlarge

This is another view of a hand made tin domino box found in the belongings of a Bergen-Belsen DP Camp resident. Is this a Holocaust artifact?

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On  Response 
6/6/2019 8:55 PM Hi Paulette, What an interesting set to find! I am not an expert on European games in particular, but I have a background in museum artifacts and work as a librarian who, among other things, might receive a question like yours from someone seeking more information. Your photos are very small on my screen so my first question is to want some more information. I can't tell if the box for these dominoes looks like it was made from something else and repurposed? How cleanly are the edges cut? Is there any solder? Was there any surface that is worn off? I'm not sure if you are thinking that the box is specifically a Holocaust artifact, or if the dominoes are, or both? What are the dominoes made of? What do the backs look like? Without knowing for sure, it seems quite possible to me that miniature dominoes could easily have been available in 19th and early 20th-C Germany, and other parts of central and eastern Europe, possibly intended for travelers. I do not know how commonly they were played with by Jews. They could be made of bone or ivory or early plastic and might look hand made or manufactured (I am familiar with bakelite dice from the time period). From the photo these look like bone? It also seems quite possible that a set of those would come in a custom case, which would look professionally made even if hand done, but it is also quite possible that someone would fashion their own case to carefully preserve a set that was older or originally stored differently. One thing you should definitely do is see if this is a full set of dominoes. If it is not a full set, but it does fit so tightly into the box, then you know someone made the box for just the ones that they still had in their possession. (If it is a full set, that doesn't mean the box wasn't custom made, of course.) I would also suggest that you research miniature domino sets in general to get a feel for the approximate age of these dominoes, if you can, and for how they might have been packaged when new. I am searching online for antique miniature dominoes, German antique dominoes, etc., and seeing a few similar sets, though not so small! They seem to more often have wooden boxes. I also found some "trench art" dominoes from WW1 that suggest people were making these game pieces on their own. If you would like me to look into this more I'd be glad to, including checking library books, but email would be easier! You can reach me at sgarfink@umd.edu. I do not know if the Holocaust Museum would be interested, but perhaps another museum would also. Do you have any way to tell if your relative brought these from Europe with her, or acquired them from a friend or relative who did? Were they saved with other momentos? If so, they tell a story of survival and migration. Or, was she someone (like me) who acquired old things second hand just because she liked them? It can be hard to know the story of an artifact without someone writing or telling its story. Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you more if it's helpful. Best, Susan Garfinkel (sgarfink@umd.edu)

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