Open Wed-Sun, 10 AM - 5 PM
Back to Search Results

Rucksack

Gift of Boris Kacel

Tan canvas rucksack/backpack with silver colored fasteners used by Boris Kacel to store carrots, potatoes and sweet beets during his final escape from Buchenwald concentration camp; April 10, 1945.

Boris Kacel was born March 11, 1921 and grew up in Riga, Latvia with his parents, two sisters, and a brother. His mother and siblings perished during the liquidation of the Riga Ghetto.

After the liquidation, Boris was transported to Kaiserwald Concentration Camp, and then on to three other camps in Estonia and Poland. Toward the end of the war he and his Father were transported to a labor camp working in a factory; part of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany.

As the war was drawing to a close, Boris could hear bombs being dropped by the American army in the distance. Finally, on April 9, 1945, the American army reached the edge of the city. During the commotion and blasting air raid sirens, Boris took the opportunity to hide in a nearby coal shed. He was caught by guards many hours later, while searching for food, and returned to his barrack. In his barrack he met two men carrying this rucksack, whom claimed it gave them terrible luck and tossed it aside.

Boris took the rucksack and gathered the few potatoes, carrots, and sweet beets he could find. Under the cover of darkness, Boris made his way out of the camp through a small hole in the 10 foot high wooden fence. He then spent the next five days hiding in a shed, surviving off of the small lot of vegetables he had carried in his rucksack. On the fifth night, silence and hunger drove Boris out of his hiding place. He wandered back to the camp and was quickly arrested by Americans, who mistook him for a German soldier. He was soon released when a friend from the camp, who was now working for the U.S army, recognized Boris.

Keep In Touch

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. If you continue using our website, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website and you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Dismiss