The hidden treasures of Iraqi Jews

American troops descended on the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s secret police in Baghdad in 2003 and were surprised to find a trove of Jewish books.

By JACKY HOUGI
January 16, 2014 17:13
PASSOVER HAGGADA, 1930

PASSOVER HAGGADA, 1930. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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On May 6, 2003, American troops reached Baghdad’s Mukhabarat, or secret police headquarters, which had been bombed a few weeks previously by the US Air Force. In the basement of the building, they found thousands of fragments of Torah scrolls, Jewish religious books and personal and community documents which had been confiscated from the thriving Iraqi Jewish community by Saddam Hussein’s secret police.

They were all waterlogged from the fire sprinklers that had been activated when the building was attacked. When the soldiers found the Jewish documents, they notified their commanders and the latter notified Pentagon representatives in Baghdad who were busy trying to establish an interim government in Iraq.

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