"The collection of the Czechoslovak State Jewish Museum in Prague is a unique respository of historic artifacts, artistic rarities, and cultural memories. These objects document the vitality and significance of Czech Jewry, which has flourished for a millennium at the crossroads of East and West and is the oldest continuous Jewish community in Europe. One hundred fifty-three local Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia were devastated during the Holocaust, and thus the Prague Museum bears eloquent testimony to a world virtually snuffed out just one generation ago. This book brings to American audiences their first glimpse of this extraordinary collection of Judaica in conjunction with an exhibition that is touring our nation's major museums under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The unparalleled size and scope of the Prague collection-- some 140,000 treasures in all-- derive from an ironic twist of fate. From 1942 to 1945, the Nazis confiscated Jewish possessions of artistic and historical value throughout Bohemia and Moravia, and while the Jews of these lands were deported to captivity and death, these artifacts were shipped to Prague. There the Nazis intended to establish a "museum to an extinct race," a pathological "research" and propaganda "institute" that would justify to the world the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question." While nearly all of European Jewry vanished during the Holocaust, Prague was spared from wartime destruction, as was the collection of Judaica that by war's end filled eight historic Jewish sites and more than fifty warehouses throughout the city. Teams of distinguished scholars from the United States and Czechoslovakia participated in the research and writing of this text, which includes studies of the historic and religious legacy of Czech Jewry as well as a catalogue of the landmark exhibition "The Precious Legacy." The volume is magnificently designed, depicting beautiful textiles, oil paintings, glassware, porcelain, precious metals, printed books and illuminated manuscripts in 75 full-color and 150 black-and-white illustrations. These photographs and essays together bear witness to the continuity and beauty of Jewish culture, a tradition that sanctifies life and transcends tragedy and death" --Back cover.