In this photo, taken in Prague’s Jewish Quarter, you can see a portion of the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is home to approximately 12,000 tombstones and was in use between the early 15th century and 1787. You can visit the cemetery along with five preserved synagogues (notably Pinkas Synagogue) and historical buildings, which together make up the Jewish Museum in Prague. This Museum was founded by Dr. Hugo Lieben and Dr. Augustin Stein in 1906, but was closed to the public after the Nazi Occupation began in 1939. Dr. Stein hoped to preserve Jewish artifacts that were being confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis all over Central Europe, and, along with some of the museum’s other historians, convinced the Nazis to create a Central Jewish Museum where these objects could be collected. Chillingly, Hitler agreed to the establishment of the Central Jewish Museum because he planned for it to be a museum to an extinct race. Prague’s Jewish history is well-preserved as a result, and a visit to the Jewish Museum is an informative and important addition to your itinerary.
Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.
I am very interested in Eastern European Jewish history. I specialize in the study of Jewish history particularly in Romania, and Bulgaria. I have not yet come a cross something so well-preserved.
Thanks for commenting! European Jewish history is such an important topic, and I’m glad so many people are working to preserve it.
Katie Little (@kjelittle)
Do you know if Dr. Hugo Lieben and Dr. Augustin Stein were Jewish or just members of the Prague community interested in preserving this history?
Lieben and Stein were prominent members of Prague’s Jewish community. I sent an email to the Jewish Museum in Prague asking what happened to Dr. Stein after he convinced the Nazis to create the Central Jewish Museum, but I’m not sure if I’ll get a reply. I’ll let you know!