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Purim - Before, During, and After the Holocaust

Footage of Post-War Purim celebration 1946-Footage of Post-War Purim celebration in children’s home in Amsterdam, Holland

Purim is traditionally one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. One of the central commandments related to Purim is the reading of the book of Esther known as the Megillah, which means scroll. It is customary to hold celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies. The photos presented here, taken from our Photo Archives, represent the some of the ways that Purim was observed throughout Europe prior to the Holocaust, during the Holocaust years, and in the displaced persons camps and children’s homes following the war.



Before the War

Pictured here are a group of school children in Bendzin, Poland in 1937, dressed up for Purim A group of school children in Bendzin, Poland in 1937, dressed up for Purim

Pictured here is a Purim celebration held by the Beitar movement in Wlodzimierz, Poland in 1937 A Purim celebration held by the Beitar movement in Wlodzimierz, Poland in 1937

Pictured here is a Purim play held in a yeshiva (Talmud center) in Paks, Hungary in 1934.  A Hebrew printing press operating in Paks between 1884-1921 published 183 rabbinical works. Anti-Jewish laws preceded the arrival of the Germans in spring 1944. A ghetto was set up in May where 1,000 Jews were confined. Between July 4-6,1944, all were deported to Auschwitz. Yad Vashem Archives 4701/154 A Purim play held in a yeshiva (Talmud center) in Paks, Hungary in 1934

Pictured here is a Purim play held in a nursery school in Rokiskis, Lithuania on March 2, 1938.  In 1939 the Jewish population in Rokiskis numbered 3,500. Most of the Jews were Habad Hasidim. Between August 15-25, all of the Jews in Rokiskis were herded into pits outside the town and shot. Yad Vashem Archives 3335 A Purim play held in a nursery school in Rokiskis, Lithuania on March 2, 1938

During the War

Pictured here is a Purim play being held in the ghetto in Wielopole, Poland in 1942 A Purim play being held in the ghetto in Wielopole, Poland in 1942

Pictured here are children during a Purim celebration in Wieliczka, Poland in 1942 Children during a Purim celebration in Wieliczka, Poland in 1942

Pictured here are children during a Purim celebration in the Lodz Ghetto Children during a Purim celebration in the Lodz Ghetto

Pictured here are children performing a play during Purim in Wieliczka, Poland in 1942 Children performing a play during Purim in Wieliczka, Poland in 1942

After the War

Pictured here is a Purim celebration in Otwock, Poland in 1948 A Purim celebration in Otwock, Poland in 1948

Pictured here is “Kibbutz Arlorzorov” in a displaced persons camp during Purim In Marina di Leuca, Italy “Kibbutz Arlorzorov” in a displaced persons camp during Purim In Marina di Leuca, Italy

Pictured here are children dressed up for Purim in a displaced persons camp in Zeilsheim, Germany Children dressed up for Purim in a displaced persons camp in Zeilsheim, Germany

Pictured here are a group of children dressed up for Purim in an orphanage in Brussels, Belgium in 1946 A group of children dressed up for Purim in an orphanage in Brussels, Belgium in 1946