Jewish artifacts once illegally confiscated by the Nazis during World War II and believed to be lost forever have been found and seized by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, according to the Justice Department.
Seventeen artifacts – including funeral scrolls, communal registers, and other manuscripts, from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, and Slovakia – were found in a Brooklyn auction house where they were found. was selling, according to a statement from the Justice Department. The auction house, Kestenbaum and Company, cooperated with authorities, according to an affidavit.
The scrolls and manuscripts found date from the mid-19th century until World War II and were recovered from Jewish communities during the Holocaust. According to the statement, three additional artifacts are believed to be in Israel and upstate New York.
“The manuscripts and manuscripts that were illegally confiscated during the Holocaust contain invaluable historical information that belongs to the descendants of families who lived and prospered in Jewish communities before the Holocaust,” said Jacquelyn Kasulis, acting U.S. lawyer for the Holocaust. eastern district of New York. “This Office hopes that today’s seizure will help restore pre-Holocaust history in Eastern Europe.”
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Law enforcement officials learned that the auction house was selling manuscripts from Jewish communities whose members were “rounded up in ghettos, dispossessed of their property and deported to Nazi death camps, where the majority of them were killed, “the statement said.
After World War II, surviving community members returned “to find their homes ransacked and buildings emptied of their belongings,” the statement said. Among the stolen items were scrolls and manuscripts containing information about Jewish communities from 1840 until the Holocaust.
Under the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty, all unclaimed Jewish property was to be returned to surviving communities, according to the affidavit.
“The manuscripts and manuscripts were confiscated by individuals who were prohibited from doing so during and after the Holocaust,” the statement said.
The manuscripts contained prayers for the dead, commemorative pages, the names of deceased members of the community, the bylaws of the society, the names of religious leaders and, in some cases, the names of members of the community who were taken away. at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“We are fortunate to be part of the team that is able to return these artifacts to their legitimate Jewish communities,” Peter Fitzhugh, a special agent for Homeland Security Investigations, said in the statement. “… (We) will continue to bring justice to the individuals and transnational criminal organizations that profit from the trafficking of these cultural treasures.”
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