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Department for Education and Culture, 10 September 2012

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Jewish transports from Ostrava to Terezín, the Jewish Museum in Prague will be putting on-line a unique collection of personal and family documents that illustrate everyday Jewish life in Ostrava before the Second World War and the fate of Ostrava’s Jews during the Holocaust, as well as the stories of those who survived. About 2,000 letters, photographs and official documents will be made available to the public in the Jewish Museum’s new on-line collections catalogue at http://collections.jewishmuseum.cz/.

This catalogue will include an on-line exhibition based on the Goldberg family’s unique correspondence. The Goldbergs were divided by the Holocaust: three brothers – Oskar, Moses and Norbert – managed to escape to Britain in 1939 while their parents and sisters with their children stayed behind in occupied Europe, where they perished. Full of sadness at being separated and longing to be reunited, their letters effectively illustrate how difficult it was for the Jewish inhabitants of the ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’ to escape to the free world with the obstacle of visas, permits and closed borders.

This collection of documents is the result of several years’ work by volunteers at Kingston Synagogue in southwest London, which has a Torah scroll from pre-war Ostrava on permanent loan. A large collection of scrolls that were confiscated and sent to the Jewish Museum in Prague during the Nazi occupation were seized by the Czechoslovak Communist state in the 1960s and sold abroad. Many of these scrolls have since been distributed on loan to synagogues throughout the world via the London-based Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust.

Kingston Synagogue’s Ostrava Group set to work under the supervision of David Lawson in 2006. Apart from documenting the fate of the Jews of Ostrava, this group also intends to revive people’s memory of them. A ‘virtual’ community of Ostrava Jews scattered across the world is being gradually created in this way, and they are being helped to re-establish their relationship with their home town and that of their parents or grandparents.

The Jewish Museum in Prague became involved in the activities of the Ostrava Group in Kingston two years ago. In a joint project, the museum saw to the cataloguing, digitizing and publication of this unique collection.

This project will be presented at the Jewish Museum’s Department for Education and Culture in Prague (Maiselova 15, 3rd floor) at 6 p.m. on the 10th of September. There will be a discussion moderated by Petr Brod with Norbert Goldberg, David Lawson, Libuše Salomonovičová (who is documenting the fate of Jewish families from Ostrava) and Michal Frankl (on behalf of the Jewish Museum in Prague).

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