ARCHIVE OF NEWSLETTERS
New permanent exhibition - Synagogue Silver from Bohemia and MoraviaIn December 2001 a permanent exhibition of silver from the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague opened in the upper-floor prayer hall of the Spanish Synagogue.
Museum’s silver collection comprises over 6,000 objects made by thirteen
generations of goldsmiths and silversmiths from Central Europe. Its
current form shows the influence of various historical events that left
their mark on the amount and types of pieces in the collection. In
the past, silver objects were appreciated not only for their artistic
value, but primarily for the amount of precious metal that could be
used for other purposes when required; hence, only a fraction of the
early pieces has survived. For centuries Jewish participation in the
trades and crafts was restricted, which is why a large portion of Jewish
silver objects stems from the workshops of Christian manufacturers who
were commissioned by the Jewish community and individuals. The first
extant products of Jewish gold and silversmiths date from around the
mid-18th century. Apart from the products of local workshops, which
form the bulk of the Museum’s collection, there are also pieces
that were fashioned in Germany, Austria, Silesia and other countries.
The majority of objects of Bohemian and Moravian provenance were produced
in the two largest cities, Prague (Jan Kogler, Filip Oberholzer, Jan
Jiří Brullus Jr )
Brno; a smaller amount stems from other Moravian workshops in Mikulov,
Znojmo, Jihlava and Olomouc. Objects acquired from abroad include outstanding
work by golds and silversmiths from Augsburg, as well as certain products
from Nuremburg and Breslau and a relatively large amount of more recent
pieces from Vienna.
types of objects in the new exhibition cover all aspects of the religious,
social and personal lives of Jewish community members. There are (among
others) sets of synagogue and association alms boxes, Burial Society
objects (dinner sets, beakers, combs and implements for ritually cleansing
the deceased, Kiddush cups), Levite lavers and basins for ritual handwashing,
ritual spice boxes, Kiddush cups, Hanukkah lamps, trays for charitable
gifts, and Sabbath candlesticks. The most extensive sets comprise Torah
ornaments – Torah shields, pointers, finials and crowns, which
have been provided with the largest exhibition space.
earliest pieces in the collection are Burial Society beakers and ceremonial
cups dating from around 1600. Large numbers of synagogue silver objects,
Torah shields, finials and pointers were produced in the first third
of the 19th century, as Jewish communities sought to replace the losses
incurred during the Napoleonic wars. A change in lifestyle at the end
of the 19th century led to a decline in the number of orders for new
silver objects, the most recent pieces of which date from the period
just before the outbreak of World War II. The exhibition curator is
acquisitions for the Holocaust department
Holocaust department has recently gained a number of significant acquisitions.
At the end
of last year it acquired the papers of Egon Ledeč (b. 1889 - d. 1944
at Auschwitz), the famous violin virtuoso, second concert master of
the Czech Philharmonic, composer and founder of a string quartet in
the Terezín ghetto. This extremely valuable set of previously unknown
documents was donated to the Museum by Egon Ledeč’s nephew, Dr. Jan
Ledeč of Prague. It contains hand-written music scores from 1923-1941,
family correspondence from 1908-1941, letters from the Terezín ghetto
from 1944, personal documents, notes, photographs and various printed
material relating to the musical activities of Egon Ledeč.
valuable acquisition from the end of last year is the Terezín magazine
Bonaco, which was published illegally in 1943/44 by the girls from Home
XI in L 414. This is one of the few surviving Czech children’s magazines
to have been brought out by girls in the ghetto. The magazine itself
has an interesting history: it was rescued by the girls’ custodian Mrs.
Gertruda Čakrtová (née
Sekaninová) and, after her death, was handed over by her heirs (with help
from the Czech dissent) to Mr. Stephen Dean in the US in the second
half of the 1980s - it was thought that it would have a better chance
of survival beyond the borders of the Communist regime. Bonaco has now
been returned by Mr. Dean to the Czech Republic, specifically to be
housed in the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague. The five extant
copies of the magazine (64 folios of original typescripts with drawings)
constitute a rare archive document and an important part of the literary
and artistic output of the Terezín ghetto. Bonaco has been restored
and reprinted this year.
acquisition from last year is a complete and original set of 22 mostly
bound copies of the banned magazine “Gossip from the Jewish Swimming
Pool”, which was published in 1940/41 by Jewish youth from České Budějovice.
(The Jewish swimming pool was one of the few places where young Jews
were allowed to congregate). The copies contain original hand-written
texts and typescripts with drawings, photographs and a list and characterization
of the individuals who met at the pool, together with the signatures
of readers. In the course of time, the humorous texts of the magazine
devoted increasing attention to such issues as the persecution of the
Jewish population, youth labour, emigration and Zionism. This considerably
valuable and unique document was donated to the Museum by Hana Kende
from England and Jiří Kende from Germany; it had been handed down to
them by their parents who used to meet at the Jewish swimming pool.
The publisher of the magazine was their uncle Rudolf Stadler (b. 1924
- d. 1944 at Auschwitz).
to a whole range of minor personal papers belonging to former inmates
of the Terezín ghetto and Nazi camps, correspondence, photographs and
memoirs, another two comprehensive and remarkable sets of documents
were acquired last year. This comprises the pre-war papers of Bruno
Zwicker (b. 1907 - d. 1944
at Auschwitz), a comprehensive school teacher, esteemed sociologist
and well-known educational worker at the child’s home of the Terezín
ghetto. It includes his correspondence and autobiography as well as
a bibliography drawn up after the war by former colleagues (126 folios
of original texts). It was donated to the Museum by Dr. Jan Buryška
last major acquisition is that of diaries from Jewish children’s homes
in Prague from 1943. They contain entries made by children who visited
these day centres and include descriptions of their various activities
and programmes. There are 58 folios of original manuscripts, arranged
in three volumes. In view of the lack of extant documents on Jewish
schools, kindergartens, children’s homes and other such institutions
during the second world war, the newly discovered diaries represent
an important historical source. The diaries were donated to the Museum
by Mrs. Marta Olešová from Prague, who worked in a children’s home as
Reformatting of endangered periodicals in the Museum’s Library
book collections of various cultural institutions contain manuscripts,
old printed books and other rare historical sources, as well as somewhat
neglected printed papers from the 19th century and the first half of
the 20th century. The latter material, however, is of considerable cultural,
historical, social and informational value and is often preserved in
a single and incomplete copy. Periodicals and newspapers, in particular,
have become a major source of knowledge, which is why they are used
by researchers and the general public. Copies of such material are also
in most demand from foreign readers. It is precisely these widely used
documents that are most at risk - from the decay of acidic paper and
from actual handling, however careful.
in the library of the Jewish Museum in Prague also represent a highly
valuable source of historical material, but their preservation is no
easy task . The Museum has already successfully resolved the question
concerning the regular care of its library holdings by creating an ideal
environment to house them. But this does not guarantee the survival
of the most important periodicals in its collection. It is of vital
importance to the library, however, that the wealth of information contained
in its documents (such as the Czech-Jewish Calendar, Selbstwehr, Jewish
Papers and Jüdischer Almanach) should be made available to the public.
reasons, the Jewish Museum in Prague, in collaboration with the National
Library of the Czech Republic, has set about microfilming its most important
periodicals: the resulting facsimiles will (under the correct storage
conditions) guarantee a centuries-long shelf-life for the periodicals.
A microfilm is an ideal archive medium, but electronic records are more
flexible, user-friendly and universal for the general public, which
is why a hybrid method of reformatting was adopted for the microfilmed
that were recorded on microfilm have been digitized by a Sun Rise scanner
at the protective reformatting suite of the National Library of the
Czech Republic, which is the only workplace in Central and Eastern Europe
to use this type of scanner. The resulting pictorial data are stored
in disc form at the National Library (with the Jewish Museum in Prague
copyrights guaranteed) and are also available for users of the Museum
library in the form of CD-ROMs. The fact that digitized periodicals
are easy to handle and allow for simple print-outs of selected parts
makes them advantageous for both library staff and users. Microfilm
records and digital copies of these periodicals will be kept in the
European Register of Microfilm Masters. In this way the efforts of the
Museum library to preserve important Judaica from the last 150 years
are of benefit not only to the Czech Republic, but also to the whole
New paper and parchment restoration workshop
As we mentioned in Newsletter 1/2001
we shall be showcasing the new workplaces that have been established
at the Museum’s headquarters since February 2001.
specializing in the conservation and restoration of paper and parchment
was established as a completely new facility. It includes a laboratory
and is equipped with multi-purpose facilities, which are necessary given
the relatively broad range of paper and parchment objects in the Museum’s
collection (a diverse set of drawings and graphic art, books parchment
scrolls and archives). This workplace is where book bindings are restored,
objects are cleaned via dry and wet processes, the hyperacidity of paper
is reduced, missing parts of paper and parchment are replaced, and general
restoration and matting of objects (an essential part of preventative
conservation) is carried out. Restored objects are also documented with
the help of a digital camera and a stereo microscope, which is an important
instrument for determining the degree of damage to the paper or parchment
and for selecting suitable restoration measures.
laboratory is intended primarily for the restoration of the most badly
damaged parchments that are sensitive to changes in climatic conditions.
It includes a fume cupboard for work with chemicals and a light table.
facilities of the paper and parchment restoration workshop fully meet
current EU standards.
Lost Neighbours Exhibition
The Lost Neighbours project (see
Newsletter 4/2000) produced a wealth of results which are now been showcased
in a new exhibition. This project was launched in 1999 as part of the
Holocaust Phenomenon Conference under the auspices of the Office of
the President of the Czech Republic. Its aim is to remind the young
generation (especially 12 to18-year-olds) of the fate of those who vanished
from their neighbourhoods in the second world war. The Museum’s Education
and Culture Centre (ECC) prepared the groundwork for the project, drawing
up the basic text, questionnaire and a list of possible themes, as well
as organizing educational programmes and arranging meetings with Holocaust
survivors. Students then gathered together the information acquired
from school and local archives, personal encounters with Holocaust survivors
and witnesses, narratives and documents (photographs and letters etc.),
on the basis of which they prepared a literary and documentary report.
In the autumn of 2000, the ECC published a volume based on the first
seven reports and this was featured on the website
Nenalezen zdroj odkazů.
This subject matter was also filmed by Czech Television (Studio FATE,
directed by Josef Dlouhy) and broadcast on 1 August 2001.
new exhibition was on display at the Ghetto Museum–Terezin Memorial
from 16 November 2001. The documents and personal narratives of almost
thirty authors (whose work differs in approach, method and locality)
have been arranged in seven panels and, at Terezín, were presented as
an illustration of a self-educative process at an international seminar
for teachers entitled The Holocaust in Education.
1 December 2001 this exhibition will be on long-term view at the ECC
(Maiselova 15, Prague 1). Its realization was made possible also by
financial support from the Prague 1 local authority and Prague City
have just published a new translation of this successful publication
featuring a selection of Terezin children’s drawings and poems from
the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Art lessons were organized
for children in the Terezin ghetto by the outstanding artist Friedl
Dicker-Brandeis; drawing provided a means of escape from the harsh reality
of life at Terezín, as well as being a source of
pleasure and therapy for the children. The poems that accompany
the pictures in the book also reveal a lot about the life of children
at Terezin. The preface is by Jiri Weil, the afterword by Anita Frankova.
This is the first time it has been published in French and Italian (96
pp., 68 colour pictures).
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