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Settlement Reached over Auschwitz Suitcase


A settlement has been reached to end a lawsuit in a Paris court over a suitcase from the collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim. The suitcase was loaned to the Shoah Memorial Museum in Paris in 2005.

Michel Levi-Leleu claimed that the suitcase, bearing a tag that reads “86 Boul, Villette, Paris Pierre Levi,” belonged to his father, and demanded its return. Pierre Levi was murdered in Auschwitz. The International Auschwitz Council, in turn, contended that everything left from the camp should remain inviolate and integral. The chairman of the Council, Professor Władysław Bartoszewski, sent a special letter in the matter to Mr. Levi-Leleu.

As a result of the settlement, the Auschwitz Museum, which regards the suitcase as one of the rare objects symbolizing and representing the memory of the persons deported to the camp, and which wishes to express the deepest understanding of the emotions of the families of Shoah victims, has decided to leave the suitcase in the Paris Shoah museum on a long-term basis. Mr. Levi-Leleu’s family, in turn, has renounced its claims.

The suitcases belonging to people deported to Auschwitz are among the most priceless material testimony to the tragedy that occurred here. They constitute a small remainder of the property left behind by the victims of the gas chambers, and the names on some of them are among the few proofs of the death of specific individuals in Auschwitz.

Throughout the lawsuit, the Museum was represented pro bono and supported by attorneys Jean-Marie Burguburu and François-Pascal Gery of the Paris office of Gide Loyrette Nouel, and by their partner in Warsaw, attorney Robert Jędrzejczyk.

The suitcase from the Auschwitz Museum, at present in the Shoah Memorial Museum in Paris. Photo by the Collections Depar
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