Pendant made for the head of the Judenrat in the Lodz Ghetto..
(photo credit: WINNER'S AUCTIONS)
A pendant which was apparently made for the head of the Judenrat in the Lodz Ghetto, is set to be auctioned on Tuesday.
Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, the so-called Elder of the Jews, served as the head of the Judenrat throughout the existence of the Lodz Ghetto.
Rumkowski is considered to be one of the most controversial of all Judenrat leaders, due to his frequent cooperation with the Germans and his dictatorial treatment of the Jews of his ghetto.
Some historians view him as a collaborator and traitor, while others believe he made a serious, yet flawed, attempt to rescue as many Jews as possible. In August 1944, Rumkowski and his family joined the last transport to Auschwitz and were murdered there. According to one account of his death, Rumkowski was beaten to death by one of the Sonderkommando’s in Birkenau, comprising Jews from the Łódź ghetto.
In 1981, Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot
reported that a pendant made for him had arrived in Israel.
On Tuesday, it will be put up for sale via the Israeli auction house "Winner's" at an opening price of $5,000.
“This magnificent pendant serves as historic testimony to Rumkowski's character and attitude that enabled him to act like a ‘president’ or ‘king’ as head of the Judenrat,” the text accompanying a picture of the pendant on the Winner’s site reads.
Together with the pendant is a testimony that the item was made in the Lodz Ghetto in honor of Rumkowski and eventually reached the hands of Holocaust survivor Yaakov Zvi Yoskwitz, who was a prisoner of the Lodz Ghetto. After the war he was hospitalized in Theresienstadt and then transferred back to Lodz, after which he set out on a quest to recover rare hasidic manuscripts that had been buried in the Lodz cemetery during the War.
He immigrated to Israel and retained manuscripts uncovered in the ghetto. "There are a few theories of how this pendant came into his possession. It is possible that he coincidentally found it while searching the ghetto before he was expelled from it or after liberation, or he may have purchased it later on," the auction page states.
The pendant eventually reached the hands of UK-based antiques collector Rabbi Meir Brown who later gifted it to his daughter. He tried to auction the piece two years ago via Kedem auction house for an opening price of $40,000 but the piece remained unsold.
Rabbi Brown said he would like to see it showcased in a museum, specifically naming the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod. “There is a lot of research to do around it,” he told The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday. “This is a historical Jewish piece,” he added. Brown bought the pendant in Bnei Brak some 45 years ago.
The pendant integrates Jewish motifs such as scales, a pair of lions, tablets of the ten commandments, the Star of David, a menorah, shofars and a Torah crown. The pendant consists of three sections. The word "Litzmannstadt," the German name for the Lodz ghetto appears on the pendant in Hebrew letters, as well as "President M. Ch. Rumkowsk" and "Am Yisrael Chai" meaning "the Jewish Nation lives on."
In addition to this pendant, there are other, simpler, surviving pieces made by the artisans in the Lodz ghetto in honor of Rumkowski. These pieces are housed in Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
The pendant has been restored, professionally cleaned and gold plated and missing zircons have been replaced.
CEO of Winner's, Gal Wiener says the real value of the pendant is between $15,000-$20,000.