Prayer book
Nazi-looted cultural property

Jewish Museum of Westphalia restitutes prayer book to rightful heiress

After more than 80 years, Susanne Woodin (90) from Great Britain has recovered a valuable prayer book from her family estate: The "Machsor al kol ha-Shanah" is a prayer book for the whole year and dates back to 1851. Since 1991 it had been part of the collection of the Jewish Museum of Westphalia. As part of a provenance research project funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, the museum was able to identify the rightful heir and return the prayer book of her grandfather Hermann Schlome (1857-1942) to her.

Her­mann Schlome was a tim­ber mer­chant and came from a Jew­ish Or­tho­dox mer­chant fam­i­ly in Janowitz in the for­mer Prus­sian province of Posen (to­day Janowiec/Poland). His mar­riage to Au­guste Frost (1862-1942) pro­duced sons Paul, Arthur and Julius and daugh­ter Clara. Pre­sum­ably im­me­di­ate­ly af­ter World War I, the chil­dren moved to Berlin. Around 1933, Her­mann and his wife al­so moved to Berlin. Her­mann had a par­tic­u­lar­ly close re­la­tion­ship with his grand­daugh­ter Su­sanne Schlome (born 1930), the daugh­ter of his el­dest son Paul.

On Septem­ber 1, 1942, Her­mann and Au­guste Schlome were trans­port­ed to There­sien­stadt on the "54th Al­ter­strans­port" [old-age trans­port] to There­sien­stadt. Her­mann Schlome died in There­sien­stadt on Septem­ber 16, 1942, and his wife Au­guste was mur­dered in Tre­blin­ka in ear­ly Oc­to­ber 1942. Many oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers lost their lives to the Shoah. Su­sanne's fa­ther Paul died in Riga on Oc­to­ber 22, 1942.

Her­mann's grand­daugh­ter Su­sanne es­caped per­se­cu­tion on Ju­ly 4, 1939, by a Kinder­trans­port [child's trans­port] to Great Britain and was tak­en in by Mr and Mrs Hand­slip from the small vil­lage of Wer­ham, where she spent her life. She re­mained in cor­re­spon­dence with her moth­er in Berlin un­til 1942, af­ter which her par­ents were de­port­ed to Riga. Su­sanne Wood­in has on­ly a few me­men­tos of her fam­i­ly left.

The Jew­ish Mu­se­um of West­phalia is re­search­ing a num­ber of Ju­daica and books from the col­lec­tion as part of the long-term project. As a re­sult of the re­search to date, sev­er­al heirs have al­ready been iden­ti­fied and resti­tu­tions have been made.