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Scrolls in Prague 1943
Photo: Archive of the Jewish Museum in Prague

Picture of scrolls on shelves
Letters were sent out to the provincial communities instructing that Religious articles should be sent to the Central Jewish Museum

What Was Saved

In 1942, a group of members of Prague’s Jewish Community devised a way to bring the religious treasures from the deserted provincial communities to the comparative safety of Prague. The Nazis were persuaded to accept this plan and more than 100,000 items were sent to the Museum.


Among them were about 1,800 Torah Scrolls. Each was meticulously recorded on a card index by the Museum’s staff with a description of the Scroll and the place from which it came. In 1956-59 they were transferred to the synagogue in Michle, a Prague suburb, and remained there until they came to London.

At the end of the war, fewer than 10,000 survivors
returned, and some 50 congregations were
re-established. They were provided with religious
artefacts not necessarily from their
particular communities.

But freedom was short-lived as the Communist
coup in 1948 stifled the revival of Jewish life.
Most of the revived congregations gradually
closed and most of their artefacts were
returned to what by 1950 had become
the State Jewish Museum in Prague.

Of approximately 350 synagogue buildings
that existed in 1938, about 200 remain today.
Many of these have been restored by local
municipalities, by the Federation of Czech
Jewish Communities or recently
by private initiatives.

Scrolls on arrival in London; some binders still visible
Photo: Memorial Scrolls Trust