Jewish Hungarians, backed by the government in Budapest, have requested for Russia to return items that were looted during WWII by the Nazis and the Red Army. While they are asking for a return of all the articles — including vestments, crowns and artwork — they are most interested in receiving the Torah scrolls that are hundreds of years old.
Slomo Koves, executive rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, explained, “Our request is that if we’re not speaking about looted art, at least we can speak about all the pieces that are important to the Jewish community… When we speak of Torah scrolls, there is no question that they belong to the Jewish community, and we are all heirs of the survivors.”
Approximately ten percent of the 6 million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust were Hungarian. According to Reuters, “Historians have documented stories of people who risked their lives or died trying to protect Torah scrolls. Some… ran into burning synagogues or hid them on their person when they were deported to death camps.”
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims stated in their catalogue that 344 Torah scrolls are held in the Russian State Historical Museum.
Based on reporting by Reuters.