Pre-War Jewish Life in Eastern Europe | Facing History & Ourselves
Gallery

Pre-War Jewish Life in Eastern Europe

Explore photographs of the everyday lives of European Jews living in shtetls and larger cities before World War II.
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Gallery

Language

English — US
Also available in:
Spanish

Subject

  • History
  • The Holocaust

Pre-War Jewish Life in Eastern Europe

Explore photographs of the everyday lives of European Jews living in shtetls and larger cities before World War II.

Shabbtai Sonenson and Teacher

Shabbtai (Shepske) Sonenson takes one of the shtetl's Hebrew teachers for a ride on his new motorcycle, 1941.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / The Shtetl Foundation, photographer Ben-Zion Szrejder

Jewish Family in Kalisz

A family in Kalisz, Poland, May 16, 1935.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Frances Hirshfeld

Friends in Shtetl

A group of friends sledding in the shtetl, January 12, 1932.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / Stadtarchiv Pforzheim, photographer Herta Levy Werthei

Kalecka Jewish Elementary School

Pupils in the second grade work in their classroom at the Kalecka Jewish elementary school in Warsaw, Poland, ca. 1937–1938.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Barbara Berkowicz Soloway

Bar Mitzvah at Zerrennerstrasse Synagogue

Ludwig Nachmann, the president of the congregation, follows the Torah reading during a bar mitzvah at the liberal Zerrennerstrasse synagogue in Pforzheim, Germany, 1936. 

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Stadtarchiv Pforzheim

Three Generations of a Jewish Family, Vilnius, Lithuania

Three generations of a Jewish family in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, in 1938 or 1939. In the eighteenth century, Vilnius (Vilna in Yiddish) was a center of Jewish learning. By the 1920s and 1930s roughly a half of the city’s inhabitants were Jews.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A Children's Volleyball Team in Szczuczyn, Poland

A volleyball team in Szczuczyn, Poland. In the interwar years, it was not uncommon for Jewish children to participate in school or community recreational activities with non-Jewish children. Despite the lurking danger of antisemitism, Jews often had close relationships with Christians, which led many to believe that Jewish integration was possible and might even be welcomed.

Credit:
Yad Vashem

Huber Sisters in Czechoslovakia, 1920

Irenka and Eliska Huber, sisters, at their home in Czechoslovakia in 1920.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Fred Deutsch

Ensemble of Jewish Musicians in Latvia, 1930s

A small ensemble of Jewish musicians performs in Riga, Latvia, in the 1930s.

Credit:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Samuel Heifetz

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