'High Line' CC41 Cotton Bra By Kestos, c. 1941, Great Britain. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice

#UPMTC: Auschwitz and Underwear, by Lucy Adlington

This blog post – part of a series documenting the first Underpinnings Museum Twitter conference – details the presentation from Lucy Adlington, entitled Auschwitz and Underwear: the humanising power of clothes.

Underwear may be associated with structure, seduction and hygiene, but how often do we pay tribute to its humanising element? In extreme circumstances underwear provides dignity and even a sense of individuality. This is demonstrated in the harsh environments of Third Reich ghettos and concentration camps during World War II. Survivor testimonies bear witness to the degradation of being stripped of underwear… and the elation of making or acquiring it in adverse circumstances. An usual but important link between underwear and resistance to dehumanisation.

Lucy Adlington is a dress historian with 20 years’ experience lecturing on social history across the UK. She is author of Stitches in Time, the Story of the Clothes We Wear, Great War Fashion, and the YA novel The Red Ribbon, based on the true stories of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. She is currently working on a history book about women’s lives in the 1940s and researching the Holocaust and textiles.

We will share each of the conference presentations via its own blog post over the coming weeks. If you’re on Twitter, you can join the discussion via the Underpinnings Museum’s account and the conference hashtag #UPMTC

The header image for this post is of a ‘High Line’ CC41 cotton bra by Kestos (c. 1941), from the Underpinnings Museum collections. Photography by Tigz Rice.

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