In 1921 the Central Yiddish School Organization (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye – often known by the acronym TSYSHO) was founded in Warsaw to advance and administrate a network of secular Yiddish schools. As numerous founders of the TSYSHO were affiliated with the Jewish Labor Bund and left Poalei Zion the schools were home to a blend of Yiddish culture and socialist politics. While the central office for TSYSHO was in Warsaw, the central education committee was in Vilna (as this stamp attests) – and the TSYSHO schools in Vilna tended to be less overtly political than the schools in Poland. TSYSHO was not simply involved in advocated for and promoting Yiddish education, the organization was a strong force in the development of such education which TSYSHO achieved by devising curriculums, publishing textbooks as well as relevant journals, training teachers, and hosting conferences. The curriculum involved a mixture of subjects that one would expect to find at standard public schools, though TSYSHO schools also emphasized Jewish history and culture – with all classes being taught in Yiddish. With the onset of the Second World War many teachers affiliated with TSYSHO in Poland fled east to Lithuania where they enjoyed a temporary continuation of their projects in the TSYSHO branches in Vilna; however, the Soviet annexation of Lithuania in 1940 brought TSYSHO’s activities to an abrupt end – though many of the teachers involved went on to participate in underground educational activities, including in the ghettoes. The ignominious end to the TSYSHO schools which began under the Soviets was furthered with violent effect by the Nazis.
This book stamp is from a book looted by the Nazis and sorted by Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, one of “the Monuments Men,” at the Offenbach Archival Depot.
There are two scrapbooks of archival markings from the books sorted at the Offenbach Depot in the Seymour Pomrenze Collection held by the American Jewish Historical Society (Call number P-933) There is a finding aid for the collection here
The digitized scrapbooks are available here
For more information on this project check the Center’s blog: 16thstreet.tumblr.com/tagged/Offenbach-Depot
Dr. Mitch Fraas, Acting Director of the Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Special Collections Center is working on a similar project for the German book stamps based on NARA microfilm of the volumes the American Jewish Historical Society currently holds. See viewshare.org/views/mfraas/offenbach-bookplates/
The Center for Jewish History would like to acknowledge the following: The American Jewish Historical Society, who graciously allowed the use of their archival materials and digital content; Mitch Fraas, Acting Director of the Digital Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Special Collections Center, for his data and technical assistance in this project; David Rosenberg, Reference Services Research Coordinator, and Melanie Meyers, Senior Reference Services Librarian for Special Collections, for managing and creating the digital map; and Reference Services Intern Ilya Slavutskiy for his work on translating and mapping.
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Center for Jewish History, NYC