Maksymilian Goldstein: a saved collection

ID: 208
Story of a private collection of Judaica that outlasted until today and its collector, who didn't survive the Holocaust despite his colleagues' attempts to help him. 

The story is a part of the theme Reactions of Lvivians to Holocaust, which was prepared within the program The Complicated Pages of Common History: Telling About World War II in Lviv.

The Third Reich's policy toward Jews envisaged not only mass murder, but also the total plunder of property, both private and public. In the first days of the Nazi occupation, high contributions were made to the Jewish community in Lviv. Judaic objects, artistic, religious and cultural valuables from synagogues, museums and private homes ​​were exported en masse to Germany. The story of Maksymilian Goldstein (1880–1942) is tragic; a famous art critic and collector, he was one of the initiators of the Jewish Museum in Lviv and was its director in 1939–1940 and a senior researcher after this museum was merged with the Museum of Art Crafts. Yes, thanks to the efforts of this art critic and his colleagues, a private collection of Judaica was saved, but Goldstein himself and his family did not survive the Holocaust.

Goldstein's unique private collection of Judaica was kept in his apartment at ul. Nowy Świat 15 and was open to visitors. Realizing the potential danger, in early July 1941, Maksymilian Goldstein and the management of the Museum of Art Crafts agreed to deposit it. At the same time, it was decided that the collection would remain in the collector's apartment, and Goldstein himself would receive the status of its custodian. Ilarion Sventsitsky, the commissioner for museum affairs in Lviv, wrote very positive references for Goldstein and sent numerous letters in his defense:

Mr. Maksymilian Goldstein, ul. Nowy Świat 15, apt. 6, as the owner of a private collection of Jewish antiquity, is instructed by me to present the general quantitative composition of the collection by sections within 3 days and a detailed inventory within 3 months. I take into account that in this very responsible work he will be assisted by his daughter Irena Goldstein (ЦДІАЛ, Ф. 761, оп. 1, д. 1, л. 47)

Goldstein himself, his daughter and his wife received certificates confirming their belonging to the museum staff. However, neither petitions of his colleagues nor the transfer of the collection and the availability of working documents saved the Goldstein family from forced eviction to the ghetto in December 1941 (at ul. Panienska 9 (now vul. Zavodska)). Since 1942, no information about them has been available, and the fate of the eldest daughter, Lilia, who was in Krakow at the beginning of the Nazi occupation, is also unknown.

The circumstances of Goldstein's death remain unclear. His unique collection of Judaica is still stored in the funds of the Lviv Museum of Ethnography and Art Crafts, but is available for viewing only during temporary exhibitions.

All stories





1. Фаїна Петрякова. "Максимільян Ґольдштейн. Сторінки біографії", Незалежний культурологічний часопис "Ї", 2008, №51 (accessed on 13.11.2018).
2. Kultura i sztuka ludu zydowskiego na ziemiach polskich, zbiory Maksymiliana Goldsteina, z przedmowa prof. dr. Majer Balabana. Lwów, 1935 (accessed on 13.11.2018).

Cover: House at Nowy Świat 15. Google Street View.

Anna Chebotariova
Translated by Andriy Masliukh