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Victor Kaplan Collection
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The Victor Kaplan Collection (donated by Robert Kaplan) showcases a variety of World War I memorabilia relating to Pvt Victor Kaplan.
Victor Kaplan died at the age of 23 during World War I combat at Delville Wood in 1916. He was awarded several medals to commemorate his military sacrifice, including a bronze Memorial medallion, a Victory Medal, a British War Medal, and a 1914-15 Star. His name also appears on the cornerstone and Roll of Honour at the National Jewish War Memorial in Johannesburg.
The bronze Memorial medallion depicts an engraving of a Greek goddess and a lion. The inscription reads, "He died for freedom and honour: Victor Kaplan".
This collection shows the front and back views of Pvt Kaplan's medals. On the front of the Victory Medal is a female winged figure representing Nike, the mythological Greek goddess of victory. The back view of this medal reads, "The Great War for Civilisation – De Grote Oorlog voor de Beschaving 1914-1919".
The front of the British War Medal shows King George V, who was King of the United Kingdom and British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 1910 until 1936. The back view of the medal has an engraving of Saint George, naked on horseback and armed with a short sword.
The front of the 1914-15 Star is engraved with a crown, swords, and a wreath. The back is inscribed, "V. Kaplan: 10th Infantry".
This collection also includes delivery notes from the Gerald and Marc Hoberman Collection to Robert Kaplan and Ms Sheila Kaplan of the Kaplan-Kushlick Foundation. These document the return of several books and Victor Kaplan's medals, respectively. The items had been on loan for use in the book, "Tzedakah".
A series of photographs in this collection shows the National Jewish War Memorial in Johannesburg. The cornerstone of the Memorial was unveiled by the Mayor of Johannesburg, Les Dishy, on Sunday, 19 September 1993. Particular mention is made to the Kaplan-Kushlick Foundation, who contributed to the Memorial in memory of Pvt Victor Kaplan. The photographs of the Memorial show a beautiful sunny setting: the gravestones are on an elevated piece of land, overlooking a lawn with pathways. Behind the graves are many trees on a hill. The cornerstone and Roll of Honour are on the brick wall which separates the graves from the lawn.
Other items of interest in the collection are Pvt Victor Kaplan's receipt for his awarding of the 1914-15 Star and a letter from King George V of Buckingham Palace, which reads, "I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War."
This fascinating collection traces the history of Pvt Victor Kaplan's World War I efforts. Besides his accolades and their related documents, the collection also highlights the contributions made by Victor Kaplan's family to the National Jewish War Memorial in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Written by Alex Abrahams
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Donated by Robert Kaplan
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Unless otherwise stated the copyright of all material on the Jewish Digital Archive Project resides with the South African Jewish Museum.