Focus Questions

How is this toothbrush different to your one at home?

Which part do you notice most and how would you describe it? What does that tell you about the object?

Why do you think Lily made her own toothbrush?

Have you noticed...What the bristles are made of? Click to reveal answer

The bristles are made of wood as this would have been one of the only materials available to prisoners in the camps.

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Handmade Toothbrush

Handmade Toothbrush

Handmade Toothbrush

This toothbrush was handmade in a concentration camp by a prisoner called Lily Fischl

Handmade Toothbrush
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The Object

Object Name: Handmade toothbrush
Date: 1944
Catalogue number: 1990.207
Material(s): Wood, String
Size: 13 cm x 1.5 cm
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

  • Lily’s toothbrush tells us a lot about how badly people were treated in the camps and what they did to try and stay feeling like themselves
  • Look closely at how the object is made. The wooden stick and brush are tied tightly with a piece of string.  Lily used these basic materials and a simple design to make something to help her try and stay clean and tidy.
  • The toothbrush is actually really small, only about the length of your hand. This was so Lily could keep it hidden from the guards.

The Story

Lily Fischl
The toothbrush was made in Oederan camp by Lily Fischl when she was a camp prisoner. Lily was born in Vienna and she lived in Prague after her marriage. Her two children escaped from Czechoslovakia on a Kindertransport but she and her husband were deported to Theresienstadt camp in 1942, where he died.

Lily was deported to Auschwitz and then on to Oederan work camp, returning to Theresienstadt 2 days before the Russians liberated the camp. Lily survived and came to Britain in 1946.

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF called 'Investigating the Holocaust -Quotes'