Back to Online Exhibit

Past Tragedy, Future Hope

By: Becky Seitel
Survivor: Steinmetz, Max

The order was given: Confiscate the sacred scrolls of the Jews.

During the madness of the Holocaust, the Nazis decided upon a particularly fiendish plot. They stole all of the sacred scrolls from the Jewish congregations in Czechoslovakia and other European countries for the explicit purpose of later building museums to exemplify what they, in their depravity, perceived to be Jewish “decadence.” The focal point of these museums was to be the scrolls.

The Nazis stored some of the scrolls in a warehouse in Prague, where they were discovered after the war. In 1964, 1,564 scrolls were brought to the Westminster Synagogue in London.

Max Steinmetz is holding one of these sacred scrolls, also known as a Torah, a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or law. It includes the five Books of Moses and is the central scriptural document in Judaism, containing

G-d’s instructions to the Jewish people.

This refurbished Torah is on permanent loan to Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El.