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ICE Returns 16th Century Hebrew Bible

The Jewish library in Vienna

The Jewish library in Vienna

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

History sometimes has a way of righting  itself — even if it takes a while.

That seemed to be the case Monday when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials returned to Vienna’s Jewish community a 16th Century Hebrew Bible that had been looted by the Nazis 71 years ago during “Kristallnacht”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York said.

ICE officials turned over the book to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan during a repatriation ceremony.

Authorities  said the bible dates back to the year 1561 and was donated to the Jewish community library in Vienna in 1908. On Nov. 9, 1938, the Nazi Gestapo seized the library during “Kristallnacht”, a violent and coordinated attack on Jewish people.

Earlier this year, authorities said, a New York City auction house, Kestenbaum & Company offered the bible up for sale. ICE determined the book had been stolen by the Nazis and the owner of the bible, a Swiss consignor, agreed to turn it over to the Jewish community, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Seventy one years ago today, on Kristallnacht”, the Nazis carried out a violent and coordinated attack on Jewish people, ransacking the places they lived, worked and gathered,” said New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. :The passage of time does not diminish our remembrance, or the duty to return all surviving works of art and precious symbols stolen by the Nazis.


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