>The Kristallnacht’s Bible

>Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night”) or the “Night of Broken Glass” was a coordinated attack on the Jewish community by Nazi Germany. On November 9, 1938 thousands of Jews were killed or arrested, hundreds of synagogues were destroyed, and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked.

The New York Times is reporting that a two-volume Hebrew Bible that was looted from a library in Vienna on that night has been found and will be returned to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. The following is an excerpt from the article:

On Nov. 9, 1938, a two-volume black-leather-clad Hebrew Bible vanished from a library in Vienna after that city’s Jewish community came under assault from soldiers during Kristallnacht, the start of the Nazi pogrom against Jews.

As is the case with much art looted during World War II, the Bible’s location during the following few decades was mostly unknown.

But last winter, the two volumes, printed 493 years ago, were smuggled into New York City, according to federal authorities, who noticed them advertised in a catalog of a New York auction house and confiscated them.

On Monday afternoon, at a repatriation ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan, the historic Bible began its journey home, 71 years to the day after it was seized.

The atlas-size Bible, which was printed by Daniel Bomberg in Venice in 1516, several generations after the Gutenberg Bible, according to scholars, bears faded gold Hebrew characters on its three-inch-thick spines. And, “for the first time in a Hebrew Bible, the chapter numbers appear in the margin,” according to the catalog issued by Kestenbaum & Company, the auctioneer, which estimated its value at $20,000 to $30,000.

The owner of the Kristallnacht’s Bible was unaware that the Bible had been stolen. The placement of the Bible in the Museum of Jewish Heritage will serve as a vivid reminder of the suffering inflicted by the Nazis on the Jewish people.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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