Almost all the personal effects taken from those sent to Auschwitz were redistributed to institutions and individuals in Germany. Storage sheds in Auschwitz known as “Kanada”—so named because Canada, the country, represented unlimited resources that were out of reach—overflowed with these stolen goods. Items that remained in Kanada after being sorted through were generally of low value.

Among these ordinary goods found after Auschwitz was liberated were common buttons. Some of these buttons are on view in the Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. exhibition. Robert Jan van Pelt, the chief curator of the exhibition, discusses these buttons – his favorite artifacts in the exhibition – and shares part of their backstory. Watch the video below to learn more.