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Accession Number: NEKHC:2010.09

Object: Identity Document

Physical Description: Paper, written ink, tape. Fragile

Information: This identity document forms part of the Victoria Ancona-Vincent Collection. It was issued to Victoria by the Italian and Russian Commandants of Spremberg Assembly Camp to assist with her repatriation after the Holocaust.

This item has been translated. 

Further Information: 

This identity document belonged to Victoria Ancona-Vincent. It is in Italian and Russian and signed by the Italian and Russian Commandants of Spremberg Assembly Camp. The document was issued for the purpose of repatriation, as Victoria had been forcibly moved across Europe by the Nazi regime to various camps during the Holocaust. The document was valuable for Victoria as it attests to her identity, and includes details such as the tattoo on her left forearm ‘A 5346’ which had been done on her arrival in Auschwitz in 1944.

Victoria travelled to Spremberg from Cottbus, a camp intended to assemble people formerly held by the Nazi regime as Italian military internees. Cottbus was administered by Russian troops, and Victoria had arrived there by chance on foot on 5 May 1945 having escaped from a Nazi death march. Everyone within Cottbus was moved out for Spremberg on 15 July 1945. Victoria remained in Spremberg until 2 September 1945, when she was transferred to Mittenwald Camp run by American soldiers, and from there made the final part of her journey back to Milan.

Victoria was born on 26 June 1923, in Jerusalem and is the youngest of nine siblings. Her mother, Nezhah, died shortly after Victoria’s birth. The family left Jerusalem for Brussels in 1930, led by the business of her father, Saul. The family celebrated Jewish festivals, and enjoyed a comfortable life. As the siblings grew up they took jobs and began lives all over the world. In 1936 Victoria’s father moved his business to Alexandria, Egypt, and Victoria went with her sister to a boarding school in Brussels for a year before joining him in Alexandria. The stay in Alexandria was short, and in 1937 Victoria’s father relocated to Milan, Italy. Although they tried to move on to the United States the family were not able to obtain the necessary documentation.

As the racial and anti-Jewish laws increased in Italy under Benito Mussolini, Victoria was forced to leave school and her father was unable to work. Victoria began work in a shop which was actually a front for a resistance movement which was assisting Jewish people. On 9 November 1943, Victoria was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to San Vittore prison, Milan. From there she was transferred to Fossoli Transit Camp and from there taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Killing Centre, arriving in May 1944.

In early January 1945, Victoria was forced to march out of Auschwitz as part of what became ‘death marches’ by the SS, who were evacuating the camp before it was reached by advancing Soviet forces. At the end of January the surviving prisoners, including Victoria, were loaded into trucks by their guards arriving at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp on 23 January 1945. Victoria was moved three more times, through Malchow, and then Leipzig Camp, before another death march to the river Elbe. They arrived at the Elbe on 22 April 1945, and Victoria took a chance to escape. She endured much hardship over the following days, reaching Cottbus after twelve further days of walking.

There, at a camp for ex-internees run by Soviet forces, Victoria received what little help there was, although she was seriously ill. Victoria returned to Milan, arriving on 12 September 1945, where she reunited with several relatives including her father who had survived. Victoria worked hard to begin the process of rebuilding her life, meeting Alfred Vincent, a British soldier, in March 1946. The two would later marry, and move to England.

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