The remains of six unknown Holocaust victims which had been stored in the archives of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London for decades are to be buried in kever Yisrael next week after an extraordinary collaboration between the museum, Auschwitz and the U.K. Chief Rabbi, the Office of the Chief Rabbi announced.
More than 70 years after they were murdered at Auschwitz, the victims will finally be laid to rest.
The remains have been in storage for more than 20 years since they were bequeathed in 1997 by a Holocaust survivor who took them during a visit to the Nazi death camp.
The museum decided that the remains should be returned to the Jewish community for burial.
The museum then contacted the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis for advice, and the United Synagogue offered to bury the victims.
The Chief Rabbi’s office said: “These Kedoshim will now be afforded the dignity of a Jewish funeral, within the loving embrace of our community — something which was denied to them and so many others during the course of the Shoah.”
The kevurah will take place at the United Synagogue’s Bushey New Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Sunday, January 20.
The Chief Rabbi’s Office said that special provisions will be made for Holocaust survivors who wish to attend.
Michael Goldstein, president of the United Synagogue, called on the community to attend the funeral if they were able to do so. He said: “For everyone connected with the United Synagogue, and I’m quite sure the entire community, this can only be described as the ultimate act of kindness, chessed shel emet in Hebrew, because, as with all burials, nobody can be thanked for what you’ve done. We have the opportunity to do what was denied to our brothers and sisters during the Holocaust: to provide a dignified and appropriate Jewish burial.
“We must remember that although we have only the remains of a number of victims of the Shoah, each was a person in their own right, with a family and a life and a Jewish identity, with hopes and dreams just like each of us. One of them was a child. I will hug my own children especially tightly next Sunday. I thank all of my colleagues who will make this burial possible and know that each of them feels acutely the huge burden of responsibility for what we are doing. We welcome all those who wish to attend to join us at the levayah to pay their respects.”
The Chief Rabbi’s office praised the Imperial War Museum, saying that Rabbi Mirvis was “grateful to IWM for the care and sensitivity they have shown.”