Handwritten Yom Kippur Tefillos from Concentration Camp Displayed by Yad Vashem

YERUSHALAYIM -

Handwritten tefillos for the Yom Kippur services by a prisoner of a French concentration camp during the Holocaust have been placed in an online exhibition by Yad Vashem in recent days, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

The author of the two pages of tefillos was Ludwig Friedmann, Hy”d, a German refugee who had been among those rounded up by the Nazis in Belgium and deported to the Saint Cyprien internment camp in France in 1940.

The pages were donated to Yad Vashem by his son Martin Friedman in 1973, himself a Holocaust survivor who escaped via a kindertransport to Switzerland and today resides in the U.K.

The document includes Kol Nidrei, Kel Melech Yoshev al Kisei Rachamim, and other parts of the liturgy which Friedman apparently copied down from memory for the benefit of other prisoners on Yom Kippur.

During research at the Yad Vashem Archives, a testimony by Rabbi Ansbacher, also a German refugee deported from Belgium to Saint Cyprien, describes Rosh Hashanah that year:

“…there on the earth of St. Cyprien what stands out as unforgettable was Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year 5701 –— on the 3rd and 4th of October, 1940). On that holiday morning, we stood under a clear sky, thousands of people sharing a single fate, a simple choir led the congregation, then the “sermon.” At that moment, we all prayed as if from one soul; one voice rose to G-d from a thousand hearts. Those that took part thought of that and much more on that morning in October.

“The French were running the camp, and there was still a certain amount of cooperation with the French Jewish community…so they were able to organize Jewish life there for a time,” explained Manager of the Artifacts Collection of Yad Vashem Museum Sara Shore. “They obviously worked hard to have some form of community life.

“The pages of prayers are tangible evidence of the efforts of camp prisoners to cling to their traditions, as a means of finding solace and spiritual fortitude in the appalling physical conditions of the French internment camps,” states the text of the exhibition.