By Daniel Webster, dWeb.News
Jacquelyn Kaulis, Acting United States attorney for the Eastern District, New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced today that 17 Jewish Funeral Scrolls, Pinkas Manuscripts (“Scrolls and Manuscripts”) and Community Records were seized from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Slovakia during World War II. Scrolls and Manuscripts that date back to the mid-19th century and World War II were taken from Jewish communities and lost during the Holocaust. The artifacts were discovered by a Brooklyn auction house, which offered them for sale. It also had a consigner as well as a buyer. The artifacts were also found in Israel, and one in upstate New York. “The Scrolls, Manuscripts and other historical information that were illegally taken during the Holocaust are valuable and belong to the descendants of families who lived and prospered in Jewish communities prior to the Holocaust is over. This Office hopes that today’s seizure will help to restore pre-Holocaust history within Eastern Europe. Kasulis, Acting U.S. attorney. “I commend this Office’s Civil Division, HSI for recovering these important religious artifacts.”
“The recovery of these 19th-century Judaica Manuscripts, Scrolls, and other cultural property items looted during World War II from Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, in the midst our world’s darkest times, is the culmination a thorough HSI cultural property investigation, which we are proud to be part of, and to be able to return them to their rightful Jewish communities,” stated HSI Special agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “The HSI NY Cultural property, Art &Antiquities Investigations unit works tirelessly alongside the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District. They will continue to bring to justice those who profit from the trafficking and looting of these historical treasures.”
According to the search warrant affidavit in which law enforcement was cited, in February 2021 an auction house in the Eastern District, New York offered for sale 21 Manuscripts and Scrolls that were derived from Jewish communities that existed prior to World War II and the Holocaust. The Scrolls and Manuscripts were taken from the communities where they were found. They were taken from ghettos and robbed of their property, and then deported to Nazi death camps where most of them were murdered. The survivors of the communities returned home to find their homes and buildings destroyed after the Second World War. Scrolls and Manuscripts containing information about the Jewish communities, from 1840 to the end of the Holocaust were among the items stolen. These Scrolls and Manuscripts included prayers for the dead, memorial pages, names of deceased members of Jewish communities, operating rules of society, payments to society members, obligations, regulations, society regulations, identity of society religious leaders, names of society members who were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp by the Nazis, and sometimes the names of those society members. Individuals who were not allowed to take the Manuscripts or Scrolls during and after World War II confiscated them. There is no legal way the Manuscripts and Scrolls can have been imported into the United States without documentation or provenance from survivors of those communities.
The case of the government is being handled by Artemis Lekakis, Assistant United States Attorney in the Office’s Civil Division. The investigation was conducted by Megan Buckley (Department of Homeland Security Agent) and Robert Mancene (Department of Homeland Security Agent).
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. : 21-MJ-837 (PK)
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