Rare Flags Recall Jewish Past

Rare flags that recall anguished memories of Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis will go on display with other memorabilia at the new Maccabi movement museum which opens here next week. They include the flag of the Dusseldorf Maccabi Club which a Jewish youth rescued from burning when Nazis threw it into flames on the notorious “Crystal Night” 37 years ago.

The Dusseldorf flag is flanked by the flag of the Czechoslovakian Maccabi which was saved when the Nazis marched into Prague in 1939. The flag was brought to Palestine by a Jewish immigrant in 1940 aboard the French steamship “Patria.” The immigrants were not permitted to land by the British authorities and were slated for deportation to Mauritius. A mysterious underwater explosion sank the “Patria” in Haifa harbor with a large loss of life. The immigrant leaped into the water and was rescued holding the flag.

The exhibit includes a flag of the Maccabi Club in Sofia, Bulgaria; a special medal given to Maccabi gymnasts by Theodor Herzl at the 1903 Zionist Congress in Basel; and documents from Maccabi clubs in former Jewish communities in Harbin, Manchuria, Shanghai, Cairo, Tripoli, Damascus, Warsaw, Vilna and Odessa. The new museum, named for the veteran Maccabi leader Pierre Gildes game, will serve as a research center for Jewish sports history.

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