»The Inmate’s Jacket«

»8 Objects – 8 Fates« – panel 6

Machine stitched jacket, worn in 1944. Material: cotton/linen cloth with blue-gray stripes without inmate triangles and inmate number. The textiles were produced by detainees and, in camp jargon, were referred to as “zebra” clothing; their patterns and fabric varied. The standing of an inmate within the camp society was mirrored in the style and condition of their “zebra” clothing.

After he [Gerd Landsberg] was released from the district hospital in Dachau, he came to Munich. He still had nothing of his own to wear and the priest, who he was sent to for clothing, told him that the garments reserved for him had been stolen. That’s how he ended up still wearing striped camp clothing on his return to Hannover.” 


Gerhard Landsberg kept his inmate jacket in his home. The original disappeared after his death in 2011. Many former inmates kept objects that reminded them of their time in the concentration camp. They serve as reminders of the imprisonment and persecution, as remembrance of friends and relatives that died in the camp, as evidence for their incarceration, and as symbols of survival. After 1945, some detainees wore their striped clothes for demonstrations and public commemoration ceremonies as a proud symbol of their survival of the National Socialists’ intention to exterminate the Jewish people. 

Gerd Landsberg never wore his “zebra” suit again. He did not consider himself to be a demonstration object but was more of a silent witness of his private experience.

Picture credits

Collection Memorial Buchenwald


Matthias Horndasch: Du kannst verdrängen, aber nicht vergessen! Die Erinnerungen des Zeitzeugen  Gerd Landsberg (Schriftenreihe der Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Ahlem, vol. 2), Hannover 2005. Citation: p. 52.


Exhibition: 8 Objects – 8 Fates
Duration: From 11th December 2016 to 7th January 2017
Location: Bürgersaal, Neues Rathaus, Hannover
Panel: 6 from 10 – The Inmate’s Jacket
Size: 650 x 2050 mm
Technique: Digital print on Alu-Dibond