Jewish valuables hidden from Nazis in 1939 found by builders in wooden box
Workers in Łódź made a sensational discovery when they uncovered hundreds of Jewish valuables during renovations of a tenement house in the city centre.
While digging to insulate the foundations, they stumbled upon a wooden box filled with over 400 antique objects, including candlesticks, cutlery, glasses, and other utensils.
Many of the objects, which are made of glass, metal, or silver, are thought to be of historical and religious value.
"This is the largest Judaica find of its kind in recent years in the Lodz area," said Daria Błaszczyńska, a spokeswoman for the Provincial Heritage Protection Office in Łódź.
She added: "During the inspection, it was determined that there may be more artifacts, so the entire site was meticulously examined. As a result, more than 70 additional items were obtained, including candlesticks, a glass toiletry set, cutlery and a ring.”
It is believed that the objects, which include Hanukkah candlesticks and personal items such as perfume bottles and a cigarette case, were hidden by a Jewish family at the beginning of World War II to avoid confiscation by German occupiers.
Evidence of this includes the fact that some of the objects were wrapped in newspapers, including fragments written in Polish, Yiddish, and German, with the date October 1939 visible.
"These items must have been buried in a hurry probably when the inhabitants were ordered to report to the ghetto," said Bartłomiej Gwóźdź, an archaeologist who conducted research at the site. "Some of them were in a makeshift box made of thin planks."
“Warbud's workers were digging the foundation of the cellar in order to insulate it, and at some point forks, knives and candlesticks started to come out from under their spades," said Gwóźdź.
The tenement house, which is located in the centre of Łódź near the Poznański Palace, was built at the end of the 19th century and had not undergone any significant renovations prior to the recent work.
While it is not yet known who hid the objects, it is suggested that a house of prayer may have been located at the address, as many of the items are of religious nature.
"The nature of the objects makes it possible to assume that the objects were deposited once, most probably at the beginning of World War II, by a person of Jewish origin," said the Provincial Monuments Protection Office in Łódź.
"This is one of the most important and the biggest archaeological discoveries made in Łódź in recent years," it added.
The heritage protection office informed that the Jewish Community of Łódź has been kept informed of the find.
Among the most valuable items discovered are Hanukkah candlesticks, special candlesticks that Jews use during the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem.
The items have been secured and cleaned. Afterwards, they will be donated to the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography in Łódź.
Researchers will work to establish to whom the valuable Judaica belonged.