Ledger with testimonies to help Bergen-Belsen survivors remarry up for sale
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Ledger with testimonies to help Bergen-Belsen survivors remarry up for sale

Statements describe deaths of Jews in Holocaust collected by rabbis at end of WWII to prevent surviving spouses from becoming ‘chained’ and unable to remarry

A ledger From Bergen-Belsen's Rabbinical Court for 'chained' spouses in wake of the Holocaust (Kedem Auction House)
A ledger From Bergen-Belsen's Rabbinical Court for 'chained' spouses in wake of the Holocaust (Kedem Auction House)

A ledger recording efforts by rabbis at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to record testimonies that would allow the remarriage of survivors who did not have proof of the death of their spouses was revealed this week ahead of its auction.

The testimonies, collected by the Bergen-Belsen rabbinical court at the end of World War II, tell of the deaths of Jews from various cities and regions in Poland and Lithuania who were sent to camps including Auschwitz, Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen.

Around 200,000 people were deported to Bergen-Belsen. More than 52,000 camp inmates and 20,000 prisoners of war died there, among them the famous teenage diarist Anne Frank.

Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany was liberated on April 15, 1945, by British soldiers who found some 10,000 dead bodies when they entered the Nazi camp.

Mass graves at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (photo credit: United Kingdom Armed Forces; Imperial War Museum id# BU 4260, Wikimedia Commons)
Mass graves at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (photo credit: United Kingdom Armed Forces; Imperial War Museum id# BU 4260, Wikimedia Commons)

After the war, a former army camp near Bergen-Belsen became the largest displaced persons camp in Germany, and became the center for displaced persons’ Jewish life, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

One account recorded in the ledger tells of fictitious marriages in the (unspecified) ghetto in an attempt to avoid being sent to camps. Testimony elsewhere states that there were no survivors of a quarantine at Auschwitz.

In another description, a camp inmate says shortly before he was killed, a fellow prisoner told him his name and place of origin and that he had a wife and two children.

In yet another testimony, there is a description of the death of a man during a march and the fact that he could not be buried as they had to keep moving.

A ledger From Bergen-Belsen’s Rabbinical Court for ‘chained’ spouses in wake of the Holocaust (Kedem Auction House)

Testimonies were collected and recorded before a marriage permit was issued and signed by a rabbi, allowing the survivor to remarry and declaring that they are not an agun or agunah —  a chained person not permitted a Jewish marriage as they are neither divorced not have proof of the death of a spouse.

The ledger is due to go on sale next week at the Kedem auction house in Jerusalem with a starting price of $4,000.

AP contributed to this report.

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