Sefer Torah Hidden From Nazis Returns To Shul In Germany That Survived Kristallnacht

Posted on 01/16/22 | News Source: JNS

Four Sefer Torah fragments rescued from a shul that was on fire during Kristallnacht 83 years ago have finally been returned to the shul in eastern Germany, reported The Jewish Chronicle.

When a fire broke out in the shul in Gorlitz during Kristallnacht on Nov. 9, 1938, an unknown person shoved the Torah parchments into the hands of a young German policeman, the father of now-retired pastor Uwe Mader.

Mader kept the parchments hidden in his office under wallpaper and later locked them in a steel cupboard.

“I was very suspicious,” said Mader, who is now 80. “Politics in GDR times had not been very friendly to Jews. Therefore, it was clear that I had to maintain official secrecy.”

The shul in Gorlitz was the only shul in Saxony not destroyed during Kristallnacht because its fire was quickly put out, wrote the Chronicle. The shul, which was built between 1909 and 1911, was neglected and began to deteriorate during the GDR rule, but was eventually restored and reopened in July 2021 as a cultural center.

Mador said the shul’s reopening was why he decided it was the appropriate time to hand over the Torah scroll fragments. He said: “Now they are in good hands, no one will be careless with them.”

The Torah fragments will be available for public viewing after being refurbished.