Museum Security Network

There's no proof Jewish items in Poland were stolen

Traveling in Poland, I visited antique stores offering Jewish items – menorahs, mezuzas – that seemed more than 65 years old, suggesting that they were looted in the Holocaust. I saw things I wished to make part of my own Jewish home but found myself unable to pay for what was probably stolen property. Part of me wishes I had stolen (liberated?) some of them. Would that have been justified? – Randy Malamud, Atlanta

It would not have. While these objects undoubtedly have a tragic history, it is less certain that they were stolen, explained Marilyn Henry, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post who has written much about such sad relics. She e-mailed me to say, “while the items may have been looted during the Nazi era, they may have been treated as legally abandoned when the family was deported; they may have been sold at fire-sale prices by the original owner/family to raise funds to flee; they may have been held with the best of intentions by neighbors in anticipation that a Jewish family would return, and the family did not return.”

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via Theres no proof Jewish items in Poland were stolen.

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