Thursday, October 19, 2017

A trove of Yiddish artifacts rescued from the Nazis, and oblivion

By Joseph Berger
A pinkas, or a kind of registry, of the Lomde Shas Society in Lithuania from 1836, one of the documents rescued from the Nazis and soon to be displayed at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan. Credit Kevin Hagen for The New York Times
In one of their odder and more chilling moves, the Nazis occupying Lithuania once collected Yiddish and Hebrew books and documents, hoping to create a reference collection about a people they intended to annihilate. Even stranger, they appointed Jewish intellectuals and poets to select the choicest pearls for study. These workers, assigned to sift through a major Jewish library in Vilna, now Vilnius, ended up hiding thousands of books and papers from the Nazis, smuggling them out under their clothing, and squirreling them away in attics and underground bunkers. But months ago curators at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan, the successor to the Vilna library, were told that another trove, totaling 170,000 pages, had been found, somehow overlooked in the same church basement. [More]