Some stories simply boggle the mind. This is one of them.
The blue and grey stripes struck Jillian Eisman like a lightning bolt.
She was rummaging through a packed closet during a Long Island tag sale when she immediately recognized the symbol of horror and hate: a jacket worn by a prisoner at the Nazi Dachau concentration camp during World War II.
"I knew exactly what it was, even before I saw the numbers (84679 on the chest)," said Eisman, who purchased the jacket for $2 at the sale last year and donated it to the Kupferberg Holocaust Center in New York City.
Curators there not only put the jacket on display, but also unearthed the story of the person who wore it: a teenager forced to make munitions for the German war effort, spent four years in a relocation camp and then came to America, never telling his children much about Dachau or that he kept the jacket.
The story of Benzion Peresecki — who later became Ben Peres — is told in extraordinary detail, thanks largely to the serial number and careful records that he kept and that his daughter found long after he died.
. . .
Eisman, whose 24-year-old brother, Joshua Birnbaum, was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, said she feels "everything happens for a reason."
"There is a reason why I was supposed to be in that house. ... There is a reason why I was friends with someone who worked at a Holocaust museum. What are the chances of that? It is difficult to say everything is a coincidence."
There's more at the link.
The jacket is going on special exhibition, and may travel around the country - or perhaps even further afield. Here's a video about the proposed exhibition and associated material.
Personally, I don't think Ms. Eisman finding Mr. Peresecki's jacket was a coincidence at all . . . but then, I'm a man of faith. YMMV, of course.
May Mr. Peresecki, and all those who died in the Holocaust, rest in what peace they may find.