Under Nazi rule in 1944, some 18,000 Jews were deported in six trains from the city of Cluj-Napoca in modern-day Romania to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. They nearly all perished. Jewish homes, offices, archives and synagogues in Cluj were ransacked and possessions were looted, including books and historical records, leaving behind scant trace of a once-vibrant, mainly Hungarian-speaking community, according to New York Times.
Today, decades after many of the few Holocaust survivors emigrated, the Jewish community there numbers just 350 and possesses little evidence of its history.
But this month a rare relic of Cluj’s Jewish past surfaced at a New York auction house. A bound memorial register of Jewish burials in the city between 1836 and 1899 was one of 17 documents offered for, and then withdrawn from sale, at Kestenbaum & Company, a Brooklyn auction house that specializes in Judaica.
The withdrawal came at the request of the Jewish Community in Cluj and the World Jewish Restitution Organization, who asked that the sale of the burial register listed in the catalog for the Feb. 18 auction and known as the Pinkas Klali D’Chevra Kadisha, be canceled.
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