1,562 Torahs of Communities Wiped out by Nazis Arrive in London

A massive shipment of 1,562 Torah scrolls originally belonging to Jewish communities in Czechoslovakia wiped out by the Nazis, arrived here this weekend from Prague and will form the nucleus of a Jewish museum at the Westminster Synagogue here. The museum will serve as a memorial to the destroyed Jewish communities of Czechoslovakia.

The Torahs, which were shipped across Europe in five sealed railroad cars, were purchased from the surviving Czech Jewish community for the Westminster Synagogue by an unidentified Anglo Jewish benefactor for $30,000. During the Second World War, the Torahs had been collected by the Nazis with the apparent intention of forming a research center for the study of “extinct” communities. More than 95 percent of the Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia, where the Torahs were used before the war, were killed by the Nazis.

About a quarter of the Torahs are still in perfect condition. Most are less than 100 years old, although some date back to the 18th century with one known to have been written in 1719. Since the surviving Jewish community in Czechoslovakia numbers only about 8,000 persons, there was no demand for the large number of scrolls in that country.

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