France: NP, 1945. Hardcover. Collection of four items documenting the April 4th 1945 Passover Seder celebration organized in France for the Jewish soldiers by U.S. Seventh Army Lieutenant Colonel Chaplain Max A. Braude.
1) Braude's typed letter, addressed to "Darling" and dated Friday Afternoon 23 March 1945 enthusiastically recounts the "fun" of planning a Seder under conditions that are in "a constant state of flux...Several days ago we had not as yet received Haggadahs for Passover so yours truly ingeniously decided to photostat the haggadah portion of the abridged prayer book - except that there was no one to do offset printing and so a cut was made which should have been perfect except as you see no one could read Hebrew - so the Hebrew Text is UPSIDE DOWN - yet I think - in fact I am almost certain that it represents (sic) the first Hebrew Printing on the Continent since its liberation." The letter also mentions his sermons for Friday evening services, asks his darling to "keep a little space beside you for me" and concludes with "...above all, my dear, pray as I do that this will be our last Seder apart; and let's make the next one the biggest best that ever was anywhere."
2) 4pp. English/Hebrew text for the Seder service (including the upside-down Hebrew text mentioned in Braude's letter, taken from the "Prayer Book Abridged for the Jews in the Armed Forces of the United States") entitled "Seder Service For The Eve of Passover" with the insignia of the United States Seventh Army (known as the Pyramid of Power, or Seven Steps to Hell).
3) The U.S. Army Jewish chaplain's cloth banner (36" x 23") that hung as wall decoration at the Seder. Dark blue fabric onto which is hand sewn two appliqués of white cloth: the Star of David and the tablets of the Ten Commandments containing roman numerals I-X created in zigzag machine stitching. "CH (Lt. Col.) M. A. Braude 031036" handwritten in pen on the white border at right edge.
4) Vintage silver-gelatin photograph of Braude (third from left) with three officials at the 1945 Seder, standing near the banner, with French and American flags overhead. 4.75" x 3.75"
Photograph in fine condition. Letter stained at lower right, not affecting text. Haggadah pages age toned, with small chips at edges and strengthened with Japanese tissue along folds. Banner cloth dotted with small holes, otherwise good condition. A unique and poignant collection, with personal, military and religious significance. g. Item #28769
Max A. Braude (1913-1982), an Orthodox rabbi, was the highest-ranking American Jewish chaplain during World War II. After the war he worked with displaced persons and later served as director of the World ORT Union and director-general of its international office in Geneva. In his capacity with ORT he headed the overseas operations of the approximately 600 ORT trade schools and other technical and vocational services. These programs operated in Europe and Israel as well as in Muslim countries such as Iran. Braude also served as an ICVA officer, and earlier, was the Assistant to the Director of Training at the U.S. Army Chaplain School.
See “After the Holocaust: Rebuilding Jewish Lives in Postwar Germany” by Michael Brenner and Barbara Harshav; JTA Jewish News Archive, citing the Jewish Telegraphic Agency 14 Nov 1962.