Wiener Holocaust Library needs £2,000 to preserve historic 18th-century Czech scroll

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Wiener Holocaust Library needs £2,000 to preserve historic 18th-century Czech scroll

Vital work need on Sefer Torah confiscated by Nazis and stored in a Prague warehouse

Pic: Wiener Holocaust Library
Pic: Wiener Holocaust Library

One of the world’s principal archives on the Nazi era and genocide has launched a crowdfunding campaign to restore a Torah scroll which survived the Holocaust.

London’s Wiener Holocaust Library needs to crowdfund £2,000 to undertake the vital preservation work of the precious scroll, confiscated and stored in a Prague warehouse. The restoration efforts are imperative for it to once more be displayed within the library building.

Following Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Jewish communities in Czech lands had precious objects from their synagogues, including Torah Scrolls, confiscated by the Nazi authorities, and placed in 40 warehouses in Prague.

TA Torah scroll saved in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust. Credit: Memorial Scrolls Trust

The staff at the country’s Jewish Museum managed to catalogue all of them, before being deported to Nazi concentration camps.

After the Second World War, the Scrolls were then stored in a ruined synagogue outside Prague.

Through the efforts of British scholars, art dealers and collectors, such as Eric Estorick, 1,564 scrolls were purchased and moved to London’s Westminster Synagogue in 1964.

The Memorial Scrolls Trust charity was set up to conserve and place the Scrolls on deposit with Jewish communities across the world.

Ever since the Trust loaned the Prague Sefer Torah to the Wiener Holocaust Library in the 1980s, it has been kept in the Library’s Reading Room, where it can be viewed by visitors.

During a recent visit, a restoration expert advised on conservation work including treatment for wormwood, as well as repairs to the parchment to stop any further deterioration to its condition.

It was also discovered that the scroll is likely much older than had previously been thought. While the Library had believed that the Sefer Torah was from the 20th Century, the restoration expert advised that it actually dates back to the mid-1700s.

To support the crowdfunding campaign, click here and enter ‘Sefer Torah’ as your message.

  • Art collector Eric Estorick was also renowned for promoting artists such as Anatoly Kaplan; one of his students, Mikhail Pesin, was the great-grandfather of  Jewish News writer Daniel Pesin
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