Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dispute Over Chabad Archive Lead Russia to Stop Art Loans

Posted by:Jan Meisels Allen

For decades there has been a dispute between Russia and the Chabad over holy texts collected for centuries by influential rabbis and seized by the Soviet Union. The Schneerson Collection is comprised of two distinct sets: the "Library," which was seized by Russia's Bolshevik government during the October Revolution of 1917; and the "Archive," which scholars say was "twice plundered" because it was looted by the Nazis in 1939 and then taken by the Red Army to the Soviet Union in 1945 as "trophy" documents.

Other documents taken by Soviet trophy brigades from the Nazis that could help to reconstruct how Jews lived before and during the Holocaust have not been returned, as demonstrated by the newly published English-language guide to collections at the Russian State Military Archive, "Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow." The book, which includes a description of the Schneerson texts captured during World War II, was published in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jewish Theological Seminary, with funding for the research coming from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. (See:
http://tinyurl.com/3esj5yx
original url:
http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/publications/details.php?content=2011-03)

Russia has already frozen art loans to major American institutions, fearing that its cultural property could be seized after the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Chabad-Lubavitch movement won a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in 2010 compelling the return of its texts.

To read more go to: http://yhoo.it/lhs99d
original url:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110516/ap_on_en_ot/us_russia_jewish_archive_4

Thank you to Randy Herschaft, AP, one of the authors of the article who brought this to my attention.

I have no relationship to the book published by the USHMM on "Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow" and is mentioned here on a one-time basis as it was referred to in the article.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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