Following the announcement last week about a newly discovered Beis Din ledger from Bergen-Belsen documenting the heterim granted to agunim and agunos after the Holocaust, the Organization of Begen-Belsen Survivors in Israel filed a petition against the ledger’s sale in a Tel Aviv court. The ledger was scheduled to be sold by auction at the Kedem Auction House on Tuesday night at a starting price of $4,000.
On Monday, in the wake of the petition, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court issued a temporary injunction against the sale and scheduled a hearing on the case for Tuesday afternoon.
“We are in principle against trade in the Holocaust,” Jochi Ritz-Olewski, deputy president of the Organization of Bergen-Belsen Survivors in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post. “Items of a historic nature about the Holocaust are not the property of private people, and the ledger needs to be given to Yad Vashem or an academic institution, since historic documents have research value, and because it is an important testimony that should be available to the public.”
Ritz-Olewski also told the Post that the ledger belongs to Bergen-Belsen survivors and their descendants since the content of the ledger concerns them. She is also concerned that the ledger could fall into the wrong hands, such as Holocaust deniers who may destroy it as valuable evidence.
Ritz-Olewski’s parents both ended up in Bergen-Belsen after surviving Auschwitz and were liberated there on April 15, 1945. Following liberation and the establishment of the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons camp, her parents married and Ritz-Olewski was born in the DP camp in 1947.
“My eyes darkened when I read about the proposed sale of the ledger,” Ritz-Olewski told the Post. “Trade in the Holocaust is something awful. The place for this document – which is first-hand testimony about how Jews were murdered and which has unbelievable historic importance – is in Yad Vashem.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
If the ledger is legitimately the property of the one offering it for purchase, let all those who dont want it sold pony up the money and buy it from him! They can donate it to whichever institution they want.
The ledger belonging to the Bais Din fell into someone’s private hands. The contents of the basis for heterim allowing marriage could raise doubt the validity of the heter, impacting the future children born (by raising questions of mamzairut). There is a strong privacy interest to keep such records private. It would be fair that the ledger of the Bais Din be held by the Bais Din of Jerusalem (Rabbanut) and only used for scholarly research and study, with viewings allowed only after signing a confidentiality agreement. Imagine if your grandmother remarried based on a heter which some modern rov disagrees with – that might severly impact your children’s shidduch prospects!