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A US Army chaplain examines one of hundreds of Jewish Torah scrolls, stolen from all over Europe by Nazi forces, in Frankfurt, Germany in 1945. Photo: Irving Katz/US Army Signal Corps/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Seventeen scrolls, manuscripts, and community records that were stolen from Jewish communities in Eastern Europe during WWII have been recovered, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Why it matters: “The Scrolls and Manuscripts that were illegally confiscated during the Holocaust contain priceless historical information that belongs to the descendants of families that lived and flourished in Jewish communities before the Holocaust," acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said in a statement.

  • "This Office hopes that today’s seizure will contribute to the restoration of pre-Holocaust history in Eastern Europe.”

The big picture: The documents were found through a Brooklyn auction house that had them for sale. In addition to the 17 artifacts recovered, four more are believed to exist: three in upstate New York and one in Israel.

  • The records date from the mid-19th century to World War II, and were looted from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia.
  • According to an affidavit in the case, the artifacts were believed to be "lost for all time" prior to being offered for sale at the New York auction house.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.

4 hours ago - World

Israeli forces capture final 2 escaped Palestinian prisoners

An Israeli security forces member on Saturday stands guard at the Gilboa prison in northern Israel, from where the six inmates escaped. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli forces captured the two remaining Palestinian prisoners who tunneled their way out of an Israeli maximum-security prison with four others in a "Shawshank Redemption"-style escape, authorities announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The escape sparked a massive manhunt and turned the prisoners into heroes in the West Bank and Gaza, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza threatening an escalation if they were harmed, per Axios' Barak Ravid.