Lot 148: Elaborate Silver Pendant Presented to Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski - Crafted by a Jewish Silversmith in Lodz Ghetto, 1941
15 November 2016
Jerusalem, IsraelLive Auction
Description: Elaborate silver pendant, crafted for the head of the Judenrat in Lodz Ghetto, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowsky and given to him as a present. Lodz, 5701 . Silver (marked) cast, engraved and sawn; gilding; zircons. The pendant consists of three main parts: on the upper part are two heraldic lions standing on two silver bands to which sawn letters have been soldered creating the Hebrew inscription "Litsmann / stadt" [Litzmannstadt], in between the letters is an ornament shaped as scales (possibly to imply the public role of Rumkowsky, who was obliged to use the "Scales of Justice" to take crucial decisions). Set with five zircons. The central part of the pendant, shaped as a case, is attached to the upper part with two suspension loops and is of an oval form surrounded by eight leaf-like ornaments, set with zircons. Within the case, behind a glass window, appears an ornament in the shape of a Torah Scroll with a Star of David inscribed "Shadai", flanked by two lions and topped with a crown (some decorations are sporadically engraved on the inner side of the case cover and on the back plate of the case, and it seems that these decorations were composed of reused silver plates). On the front of the case cover appear the Tablets of the Law, a pair of Shofars, two Stars of David, a pair of lions, crown, and the Hebrew inscription: "Nassi M. Ch. Rumkowsky. 5701. Ghe/tto, Am Israel Hai". The lower part is attached to the central one with a suspension loop and is designed as a Star of David with a five-branched Menorah in its center, on green background, set with zircons. Mordechai Chaim Rumkowsky (1877-1944) head of the Judenrat in Lodz Ghetto during all of its existence is considered one of the most controversial figures in the history of the holocaust and the ghettos. As Rumkowsky got almost unlimited authority from the Nazis regarding all management and organization of daily life in the ghetto, and had at his disposal the Jewish Police, Rumkowsky kept total order and saw to it that life in the ghetto is conducted in absolute order. Apart from managing public matters in the ghetto, Rumkowsky was ordered to prepare lists of deportations from the ghetto. Rumkowsky believed that through cooperation it will be possible to save some of the Jewish population in the ghetto. In August 1944 Rumkowsky was deported to Auscwitz with the last inmates of the ghetto, there he was murdered, probably on the same day. In the collection of "Yad Vashem" museum are some unique silver objects created by Jewish silversmiths in Lodz Ghetto during the holocaust, among them a Hanukkah lamp which folds up into the form of a small prayer book, presented to Rumkowsky by Ziso Eybeshitz, manager of the paper factory in the ghetto (the Hanukkah Lamp was found in the rubbles of Rumkowsky's house in the ghetto); a decorated silver case for a Scroll of Esther, also presented to Rumkowsky; pins and a bracelet crafted in the ghetto by the artist Chaim Klieger; and some other items. Enclosed is a letter from Rabbi Binyamin Szerynski from Jerusalem, who certifies that the pendant belonged to Ya'akov Zvi (Hersch) Yoskovich from Tel-Aviv (1905-1985), a Lodz Ghetto survivor (it is most probable that Yoskovich brought the pendant to Eretz Israel. For more information about him see enclosed material). Enclosed is an article published in "Yediot Achronot" in 1981, under the headline "Pendant created in Ghetto Lodz - brought to Israel". Length: 13 cm. Max. width: 7 cm. Good condition. The pendant was cleaned and repaired and the original zircons were replaced by new ones (see photo presenting its original condition, before it was repaired).