Lost and not found: mystery shrouds Holocaust-era household items

JNS, April 18, 2017

At an antiques flea market in Berlin, one of several stands proudly displays two Hanukkah menorahs for sale. The husky, white-haired seller, who wears a Soviet hammer-and-sickle pin for show, explains how one of them probably came from Königsberg, a former German city in modern Russia. The other is easy to identify: a plaque indicates it was gifted by an Israeli organization to a German-Jewish benefactor in 1992.

Next door, piles of old German photo albums are also for sale. Two albums, chosen at random, show happy, growing German families. One features a promoted German soldier proudly posing in uniform in 1941. In the other, pictures from the Nazi era have been mysteriously removed, leaving glue marks.

Old-fashioned typewriters, Dresden porcelain, silverware, goblets, and books from the 1930s—including a volume on German submarines written in Nazi-preferred font—are among the other objects on display. But who were the original owners? Most vendors can’t say for sure, but chances are, some of the antiques belonged to Nazi-era Germans—and Jews.

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