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World News

Holocaust survivor reunited with precious family Bible after 79 years

by Will Maule

A prized Hebrew Bible that was hidden by a Jewish family during WWII has been returned to its rightful owners almost eight decades later. 

Holocaust survivor Susi Kasper Leiter and her grandson Jacob Leiter finally retrieved the 1874 Bible this summer after officials from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum tracked it down. 

The book had been left behind by original owners Eduard and Ernestine Leiter after they were deported from Germany to the Theresienstadt ghetto in the Czech Republic. The Leiters were originally from Stuttgart in Germany but had been forced into a house in Oberdorf along with seven other Jewish families when the Nazis came to power. On 22nd August 1942, the families were all sent to Theresienstadt and then to Treblinka extermination camp in occupied Poland where they died. 

The Bible they left behind wasn't seen until 1990 when residents discovered it in the attic of the house in Oberdorf during renovations. The family that bought the home found the Bible behind a double wall, along with other possessions belonging to the Leiters. The family kept hold of it for several years before selling it on to German art historian, Gerhard Roese on eBay in 2017. 

Roese went on to create a photo project around the Bible, before putting it on display at a local synagogue in Oberdorf, just a few hundred metres away from the family home in which it was kept hidden.

In light of the personal significance of the Bible, Roese decided to request the help of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to help him return the Bible to the Leiters’ descendants. After verifying its authenticity, the museum instructed an official to travel with the Bible from Germany to the US in June to hand-deliver it to Susi Kasper Leiter and Jacob Leiter.

“Twenty-eight members of my own family tragically did not survive the Holocaust,” Susi Kasper Leiter told the Times of Israel.

“So when we were notified about the finding and survival of this Bible, I realised that miracles can happen. It is a new connection for my children and grandchildren, to the Leiter family whose name they bear. I am overwhelmed with emotions and memories, and at the same time so grateful to witness this." 

She added: “There are no words to describe the goodness, patience and caring of the wonderful people involved in Germany to make sure that the Bible was returned to its rightful owners." 

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