Two years after the invaluable treasures of a Jewish family deported from Hungary were found in mason jars, we learned that finally a heir of the victims had been identified.
One of the sensations of the year 2019 was that a treasure containing almost 3,000 pieces of special coins and jewelry hidden in earthen jars was found in the center of the town called Keszthely, near Lake Balaton, in Western Hungary.
The unusual collection was found in the basement of a house during construction work. While they were digging the pit, one broken and five intact, carefully sealed mason jars were found.
First the city’s clerk was notified and then the mason jars were transferred to the region’s largest museum, the Balaton Museum. Thanks to Gábor Rejtő, the president of the Keszthely Jewish Community, we managed to reach one of the finders – one of the key figures in the story, which has been full of mysteries ever since.
As we were shooting our recent videoreport on local Jewish heritage in the region and in Keszthely,
we ourselves would not have believed that in the search for our spiritual treasures we could literally come across real treasures — or at least those who know about them.
We have made a great deal of effort for the finder to tell us the special story in front of our camera, however, this has not yet been authorized by the heir. One of Keszthely’s well-respected young merchants – perhaps that is all that should be revealed about him – willingly told us on the phone about the details of the finding and the spiritual effects associated with it.
As he said, his curiosity about the original owner – the Pollák family, a local glass merchant clearly identified in the news – set in motion a process in which he began almost obsessively researching the history of the regional and urban Jewry.
He researched in archives and consulted with experts. He put together a ready-made package of documents. He would be happy to tell the details about all in public, but only if he sees the time has come – all of which requires the family to finally give their consent.
More than 800 members of the Keszthely Jewry were deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, most of them murdered in gas chambers. In all likelihood, they included those who had hidden their treasures in the basement of their downtown house a few weeks earlier.
It took a long time until the heir was identified last year, and to the best of our knowledge, the person is indeed entitled to dispose of the treasures worth up to several millions of dollars.
As is well known, the treasure containing private jewelry and thousands of years of numismatic specialty – the oldest piece from the Hellenistic times, but there are also coins from the Roman Republics in the collection – was found in February 2019. The press covered the sensational news a few months later, then, in the hope that the heirs could appear as a result of the attention, an exhibition was organized at the Balaton Museum in the summer.
At the opening of the exhibition tilteded “Mysterious Collection – The Saved Heritage of a Jewish Family in Keszthely”, the mayor talked about the fact that the city also bought safe storage equipment for the treasure and would like to have it on display at the Balaton Museum in Keszthely for long turn.
We contacted the director of the current custodian, who was open for the first time, and even gave us an appointment for shooting about the treasure inside the museum, but later Péter Németh was forced to cancel the meeting at the request of the heir.
All we learned from the director was that certain legal issues were still being negotiated among the heir, which could hinder the fact that it is still not considered a closed case.
However, our resources tell us that the heir will come out to the public within a very short time, and even this year there will be a chance for the museum to showcase the treasures once again, on a larger scale for the public.
There is a plan about the Pollák family’s heritage being taken care of by the Balaton Museum for five years, so that, if the pandemic allows, everyone can admire the unique values without interruption – and at the same time remember the common Jewish heritage.
Our latest video discusses the intellectual and spiritual treasures of Keszthely. Famous film director András Szőke co-hosting it as a resident of Taliándörögd. He also tells about the other hidden wonders of the “Valley of Arts”.
A Bennem Élő Eredet februári része Taliándörögd , Keszthely és Hévíz vidékén talált emlékeket és érdekességeket.