KLANDORF, Germany – Yaron Svoray scrapes caked layers of dirt from a shard of glass, revealing a sunflower at the heart of a Star of David.
He carefully turns it, speculating it may have been a bowl used for Passover ceremonies in pre-World War II German Jewish homes.
The fragment is one of a handful of artifacts Svoray has pulled from mounds of debris in this former dump about an hour north of Berlin that locals say was used by the Nazis to deposit rejected loot from the 1938 pogrom known as Kristallnacht, or "The Night of Broken Glass."
"Most of the people in Israel I know who went through the Holocaust, if I take this to Israel, to Yad Vashem, you'll get every visitor who is a Jew will say: 'Oh this is what was in our house 50 or 60 years ago,"' Svoray said recently at the site.
"For me as a Jew, if this turns out, and I'm not saying it is, but if this turns out to be a Jewish bowl from before the war, it's a treasure."
Svoray was hunting for a downed Nazi plane in the area's vast stretches of woods when a former forester tipped him off to the dump, used from 1935 to 1945, outside the village of Klandorf in the largely rural eastern state of Brandenburg.
After two hours of digging with his bare hands and a rusty spade found among the refuse, Svoray had unearthed what appeared to be a beer bottle stamped with a Star of David and a plate-sized alloyed metal swastika. Several weeks later he returned and found the jagged shard of the bowl.
"I don't claim to say this is from Kristallnacht, I claim there is enough evidence here to provoke a further investigation," said Svoray, 54, an Israeli journalist who made his name infiltrating German neo-Nazi groups in the 1990s. He would like to see the dump excavated.
Thomas Kersting, an archaeologist employed by the state of Brandenburg to care for buried memorials and archaeological sites, said Svoray's finds — which he has yet to examine — may give the area historical value.
"A place like this where we have objects with a Star of David directly next to a Nazi swastika, that is of course meaningful ... that gives it a certain quality of a memorial," Kersting said.
But Kersting played down the likelihood of an archaeological dig, citing a lack of funds and arguing that such a disruption would be in direct opposition to his bureau's aim to maintain the sanctity of such sites.
Arno Gielsdorf, who owns the strip of land where the dump sits, said his father told stories the arrival of "garbage" trains after Kristallnacht.
Since the collapse of communism in 1989, he said, bands of scavengers have picked over the area, selling their finds at weekly flea markets in Berlin.
But he is convinced the dump holds valuable artifacts.
"The things from Kristallnacht were buried in the deepest places," Gielsdorf said. "They are still there."