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Mikhal Kovner, brother of Partisan Abba Kovner, sorting books; Vilna, 1943
Courtesy of the Moreshet Archive, Israel
“Would you risk your life to save a book?” That is the underlying question of Holocaust Museum Houston’s new exhibition The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis, making its world debut in the Museum’s Mincberg Gallery. The exhibition is curated by HMH’s Chief Curator of Collections and Exhibitions and based on the book of the same name by David E. Fishman.
The Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable true story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts by hiding them on their persons, burying them in bunkers and smuggling them across borders. Set in Vilna, Lithuania, also known as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for their robust Jewish culture rich with art, music, literature, poetry, theater and opera, a small group of partisans and poets risked everything to save Jewish cultural treasures.
The Book Smugglers exhibition is a partnership between Holocaust Museum Houston, David E. Fishman, Moreshet Archive, Anielevich Memorial Holocaust Study and Research Center,The Archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, The Judaica Collection of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania.
The Book Smugglers exhibition is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. [Organizer's description]