Historians believe that the find belonged to Jewish prisoners from the Hrodna ghetto. Now the future of jewelry is being decided, it is likely that the treasures will remain in Hrodna.
About two months ago, during the reconstruction of a building in Hrodna, the construction worker Uladzimir Strakovich found a metal snuffbox with the inscription “Tytuń fajkowy specjalny”.
The snuffbox had 23 gold coins of the Russian Empire and the interwar Polish period, more than a dozen rings, two chains, several gold bars, gold-plated dental crowns and several documents of purchase. For more than 70 years, the treasure was in a house that had not been overhauled for a long time.
The found treasure, weighing about 500 grams, was described in detail and transferred to the Hrodna State Archaeological Museum for further examination, which established that the total cost of the find is 19,500 dollars. The most expensive item was a unique ring with the Maltese cross, which was estimated at 1,5 thousand dollars.
“Such rings were worn by the pages of the corps of servants of the Russian emperor. Graduates received a ring with an inscription in French: my God, my king, my lady. In general, the slogan of this corps was “Hard like Steel,Pure like Gold.” Therefore, the ring was always made of two metals. Outside it is steel, but inside it is gold. The ring is quite rare, and everything else in the treasure, you might say, is expected. There are royal gold coins, several European thalers,” says historian, junior researcher of the Hrodna Historical and Archaeological Museum Yan Lyalevich.
After the examination, the special commission of the Hrodna Oblast Executive Committee will decide on granting it a category of valuable object. Then, the document should be approved by the Ministry of Culture. The treasure will receive the status of movable historical and cultural value, as, for example, slutsk belts. And only then the treasure will be transferred to the Hrodna State Archaeological Museum. By law, local authorities will be required to pay 25% of the total value of the treasure to the person who found it and to the owner of the building.
Will the owners be found?
In addition to material value, the examination found that it is impossible to find out who was the first owner of the treasure. It can be said that the box was collected not earlier than 1937, as evidenced by one of the papers with a date in which the owner wrapped part of the jewelry. Historians agree that, most likely, the treasure belongs to the prisoners of the Hrodna ghetto, which included a building along Trudavaya Street 2. However, there are no lists of residents during the ghetto era. There are also no archival records of people who lived in the house before the war. The building itself was built in 1894.
Treasure from this street is not the first Jewish treasure found in Hrodna. In the 90’s a hiding place with Jewish cult things, which are used during prayer, was found in another street. And two years ago, in 2016, golden treasure was found on the Antonava street. During the reconstruction, the builders came across a hiding place with gold coins and rings. During the war, gold gave people a chance to survive.
Both treasures can be seen at the exhibition in the New Castle, which will open at the end of June. A total of 25 valuable finds from the Hrodna region will be exhibited there.