Skip Navigation

Related Works of ArtShare

Memorial Plaque of the Great Synagogue of Danzig

Memorial Plaque of the Great Synagogue of Danzig

Danzig (Gdansk, Poland), c. 1918
  • Marble: carved, painted, and gilt
  • 62 3/4 x 46 1/2 x 1 in. (159.4 x 118.1 x 2.5 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Danzig Jewish Community, D 284
On view

Larger Image

close

Memorial Plaque of the Great Synagogue of Danzig

close


This plaque was one of the items that the Danzig Jewish community sent to New York for safekeeping in 1939. It originally hung on a wall of the Great Synagogue of Danzig as a testament to the fifty-six members of the community who fought and died for Germany -- the Fatherland -- during World War I. (Danzig was part of the German state of Prussia from the late eighteenth century until 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles granted the city independent status.)

Despite growing antisemitism in Danzig in the years before World War I, the Jewish community remained strongly identified with Germany. With the outbreak of World War I, Danzig Jews signed up in large numbers for military service as did other German Jews. Of the twelve thousand German Jewish casualties of the war, perhaps as many as ninety-five were from Danzig (although the plaque only lists fifty-six names).

For discussion:

  • What do you notice about this plaque? What symbols do you see? What dates? In what language do you think the text is written?

  • Based on what you see, what do you think was the significance of this plaque? Have you seen similar objects?

  • Hitler later accused the Jews of being disloyal to Germany and a source of all of Germany's problems. How does this plaque challenge that statement?

  • Why do you think the Jews of Danzig wanted this plaque to be saved?


Untitled (Man with Jewish Treasures Discovered after Liberation)

Cas Oorthuys (Dutch, 1908-1975)

Untitled (Man with Jewish Treasures Discovered after Liberation), 1945, printed 1997

  • Gelatin silver print
  • 11 x 11 1/4 in. (27.9 x 28.6 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Netherlands Photo Archives in Honor of Eric A. Zafran, commemorating The Jewish Museum's exhibition "The Illegal Camera: Photography in the Netherlands During the German Occupation, 1940-1945", 1997-28

Not on view

largeImage

close

Untitled (Man with Jewish Treasures Discovered after Liberation)

close

Untitled (Man with Jewish Treasures Discovered after Liberation)


During the Holocaust, the Nazis stole thousands of books and religious objects from the Jewish families they deported and the Jewish institutions they destroyed. Many of the metal objects were melted down for the raw materials, but quite a few were preserved so the Nazis could study the extinct Jewish culture once they had destroyed it. After the war, efforts were made to return these objects, but they often had no owners to claim them. Many of the items were sent to museums, synagogues, Jewish libraries, and other institutions around the world.

For discussion:

  • Why do you think the Nazis wanted to save Jewish religious objects?

  • What do you think should have been done with the objects after the war?

  • Why is it significant that the Danzig objects were kept together and sent out before the war started?