Authors

Object ID

2021.1.115a-c

Object Name

Torah

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Description

a: threads along both edges; b: repaired hole at bottom, multiple smaller holes along top; c: stain at bottom left corner, hole in top right corner

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Parchment fragments such as this one--part of an old Torah scroll--were most often the result of acts of desecration by German soldiers. As territories in the East were conquered and occupied, along with the persecution and humiliation of Jews it was common to pillage and plunder their houses of worship. An indelible expression of contempt for Jews and their way of life, artifacts and ritual and ceremonial objects considered holy by Jews were either wantonly destroyed, taken as souvenirs or used for commercial purposes. Typically, old torahs or other holy books and artifacts which outlived their ceremonial use continued nevertheless to be objects of veneration and would customarily be stored in a special place until they could have a proper burial: precisely because they contained the word of God. For the German conquerors on the other hand, Torah parchment had value not merely as souvenir: in the hands of the antisemitic German conquerors, it was decontextualized, and became mere raw material transmuted and repurposed into wallets and other leather goods, musical instruments such as drumheads, canvas for paintings, etc. The clever Germans also found the means to eradicate the long, painstaking work of Jewish scribes with chemicals to remove the Hebrew script. More enterprising Nazis would attempt to turn this parchment to commercial use, collecting it for possible sale, for example, to leather goods manufacturers.

There were other examples of the Nazi contempt for Jewish institutions and ways of life. Places of worship themselves were also destroyed, set on fire, or used as storage facilities, garages or stables. Centuries old cemetery gravestones were violated, often used as pavers for roads or bricks for buildings. Prayer books, candelabras, torah covers, paintings and embroidery, all of which were embedded in an ancient ceremonial and ritual context, were themselves taken as souvenirs, destroyed, or sold. Such looting would also be initiated by non-Jewish antisemitic locals, having been given tacit “permission” by the Germans.

Dimensions

a:17 x 24 1/2" ; b:19 1/4 x 34 1/2" ; c:19 1/4 x 33 1/2"

Keywords

Torah, Poland

Subcollection

Early

Damaged Goat Skin Torah Fragment Found in Poland

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