Construction workers renovating an old tenement house in Łódź, Poland, unearthed a surprising find: an untouched cache of hundreds of Jewish artifacts believed to have been hidden before the Nazis occupied the city in 1939.
The trove included menorahs, kiddush and ritual washing cups, and items from everyday life, all wrapped carefully in newspaper. It was buried next to a building just beyond the ghetto in which Łódź’s Jews were imprisoned during the Holocaust. Only about 10,000 of them survived until the end of the war, out of a prewar population of about 230,000.
“A find like this comes along once in a decade,” Adam Pustelnik, the vice mayor of Łódź, said in a tweet.
“The discovery is remarkable, especially the quantity. These are extremely valuable, historic items that testify to the history of the inhabitants of this building,” said Agnieszka Kowalewska-Wójcik, director of the Board of Municipal Investments in Łódź, according to Polish media. She said the artifacts are being transferred to the city’s archaeological museum, adding, “I hope a special, generally accessible exhibition will be prepared.”
Before World War II, Łódź, one of Poland’s major industrial centers, was one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. More than 230,000 Jews lived there — they were about 31% of the city’s population. The Nazis killed almost all of them between 1939 and 1945.
“For us archaeologists, such unusual finds are a challenge, but also a great joy,” local archaeologist Bartłomiej Gwóźdź said. “I don’t remember the last time such treasures were unearthed in Łódź.
Łódź’s Jewish community lit two of the menorahs during Chanukah celebrations this year. Its office is on the other side of the block from the building on Północna street where the trove was discovered.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency