In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

by David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History

The UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The children of today will be the last generation to meet Holocaust survivors.

The Center for Jewish History houses countless artifacts and archives concerning this horrific period in history. However, learning about what happened by examining yellow stars, ghetto money, transfer lists, books and other papers cannot truly replace the experience of hearing a survivor speak of the terror, seeing numbers on a human being’s arm and being shaken by someone retelling their experiences decades later.

I’ve met many survivors, and I learn more about the scale and scope of the atrocities from each experience. While technology will never replace in-person conversation and the real-life emotion it conveys, recorded oral histories can capture the testimony better than written words alone.

Oral history is defined as “the collection and study of historical information using sound recordings of interviews with people having personal knowledge of past events.”

Our partners here at the Center have many oral histories about the Holocaust. Other institutions, such as the USC Shoah Foundation or the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, are solely dedicated to this important form of documentation.

With the help of Aurora Zinder and Reference Services Research Intern Aliza Schulman, I have compiled a list of institutions that have oral histories concerning the Holocaust.

Resources Available from the Center for Jewish History

Holocaust Resources: An Annotated Bibliography

Family History: Holocaust Research

Through the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute, you can access the book Oral history interview guidelines / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. ”The guidelines were originally created for the Department of Oral History’s own interviewers … However, they also provide general advice that can be applied to a wide variety of oral history projects …” It includes bibliographical references (p. 81-84).

Leo Baeck Institute

“The Austrian Heritage Collection, a program whose specific goal is to document the history of Austrian-Jewish émigrés who fled to the USA during the Nazi years, has been centered at the Leo Baeck Institute since 1996.”

Note: LBI’s collection of unpublished memoirs also offers insights into individual experiences of the Holocaust.

YIVO

Eyewitness Accounts of the Holocaust Period (RG 104): “The YIVO Institute was involved in several projects to collect written testimonies by survivors of the Holocaust. Series I includes the earliest testimonies and consists of 1,143 items. Series II includes 500 interviews with survivors collected in 1954. Series III includes most testimonies received from the 1960’s to the present. At present there are over 300 items in this series.”

Resources Available from Other Institutions

This select list is intended to highlight major repositories and projects that showcase materials for educational purposes.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) website contains an excellent list of institutions that hold oral history collections. The “International Database of Oral History Testimonies” is meant “to provide a tool for all those interested in the location of Holocaust oral history collections worldwide. There are over 125 entities represented in this catalog.”

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: “The US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s oral history collection is one of the largest and most diverse resources for Holocaust testimonies in the world.”

USC Shoah Foundation: The Institute for Visual History and Education: Started in 1993, recorded over 50,000 oral testimonies of survivors. The Foundation is now halfway through digitizing these interviews.

Yale University Library: Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies: The Fortunoff Video Archive has around 4000 oral Holocaust testimonies. In addition to “single-witness programs” which focus on one person’s story, they have “thematic programs,” which weave more than one person’s story together. Includes testimony of bystanders as well. 

Museum of Jewish Heritage:  A Living Memorial to the Holocaust: Includes many exhibits about the Holocaust and the persecution and annihilation of Jews from all over Europe. Additionally, they have about 4000 audio and video testimony from survivors, rescuers, liberators and Jews in the Allied Armies. 

Yad Vashem (Israel) has collected over 36,000 testimonies since 1945. 11,000 have been digitized and can be seen at their Visual Center.

Museum of Tolerance: The museum has a “Hall of Testimony A specially designed room of witness where visitors can see and hear unforgettable stories of the courage and sacrifice of Holocaust victims and Survivors.” 

Letters from the Front: Jewish War Heroes Focuses Russian Jewish War veterans and the persecution Russian Jews during WWII. It has Audio and Video resources available online.

Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive: “The Voice/Vision Archive promotes cultural, racial and religious understanding through unprecedented worldwide access to its collection of Holocaust survivor narratives.” 

Telling Their Stories: “High school students at the Urban School of San Francisco conduct and film interviews with Bay Area Holocaust survivors in their homes. Students then transcribe each 2-plus hour interview, create hundreds of movie files associated with each transcript, and then post the full-text, full-video interviews on this public website as a service to a world-wide audience interested in Holocaust studies.“ 

Voices of the Holocaust is a collection of interviews with Holocaust survivors and other displaced persons conducted by Dr. David P. Boder in Europe in 1946. 

The Virginia Holocaust Museum The Oral History Archive contains over 230 digitized testimonies from people who witnessed genocide firsthand. 

Wisconsin Historical Society - Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust collection: Archivists from the Wisconsin Historical Society interviewed 22 Wisconsin Holocaust survivors and two American witnesses between 1974 and 1981. The scope of the collection includes 156 hours of audio and 3,400 transcribed pages. These interviews are available digitally, in their entirety, for the first time.

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For more Center-based resources about the Holocaust, see these previous blog posts.

Translating Charles Darwin
by Melanie J. Meyers, M.S., Senior Reference Services Librarian, Special Collections, Center for Jewish History

November 24 was the 154th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s most famous work, The Origin of the Species. The full title of the work was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, but this title was shortened for the sixth and subsequent editions. Charles Darwin—or Ṭsharlz Darṿin in Yiddish—wrote many other scientific books based on his extensive travels and observations, but Origin remains his most well-known work.

Here at the Center for Jewish History, we have a wealth of material by and about Darwin and his theories. We have copies of works such as The Structure and Distribution of Coral ReefsThe Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals, and dozens of others including critical essays, biographies and collected letters. We also have copies of another famous Darwin work, The Descent of Man, in many different editions. The YIVO Library holds copies of Descent in both Yiddish and Russian, in addition to works discussing Darwin’s theories, written by Frederick Engels and translated into Russian. Both Leo Baeck Institute and The American Jewish Historical also hold works by and about Darwin, in both German and Yiddish. YIVO Library also holds what appears to be a complete set of Darwin’s works in English, published in New York by D. Appleton and Co. publishers. Appleton, founded in 1831, specialized in science books at moderate prices that were affordable for the layperson.

See above for pictures of The Descent of Man in Russian (courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research) and Yiddish (courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society).

Remembering Kristallnachtby David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History
November 9th -10th marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a series of attacks on Jews in Germany and Austria that was a turning point for the Nazi Party. Kristallnacht is often looked at as the beginning of the Holocaust.
Each of the five partners of the Center for Jewish History has material on Kristallnacht or the Holocaust. A search of the library catalog, catalog.cjh.org, reveals over 730 records with the word “Kristallnacht” in the description, and over 15,000 with the word “Holocaust.”
The amount of digitized material available to anyone with an internet connection is similarly vast, with 550 results containing the word “Kristallnacht,” including over 100 photographs and over 40 oral histories. Using “Holocaust,” there are over 1,900 results, including more than 300 photographs and 300 oral histories.
The following is a small sampling of relevant holdings from each of our five partners.
American Jewish Historical Society
The oral history of Fred Margulies contains memories of Kristallnacht. It has been digitized and is available online.
There are digitized letters on the conditions in the displaced persons camps. This material was originally in Box 1, Folder 26 of the Abraham Klausner Papers, available here.
American Sephardi Federation
Birkenau (Auschwitz II) : memories of an eyewitness : how 72,000 Greek Jews perished by Albert Menasche, number 124,454. (1947)
The destruction of the Dutch Jews by J. Presser. Translated by Arnold Pomerans. (1969)
Leo Baeck Institute
One example of the many memoirs in the LBI collections is Kristallnacht and Aftermath, November 1938: German original and English translation of notes written in March 1939, in London, three months after release from Dachau concentration camp by Siegfried Koppel. This material has been digitized and is available online.
One example of the many photographs memorializing the event that have been digitized is Wiesbaden Synagogue Burning; Kristallnacht (see above).
Yeshiva University Museum
"Jews Have Always Fought for Freedom” Arthur Szyk image from 1943.
Yom Yahadut Polin Poster From 1945.
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Digitized photograph of Shlomo Grzywacz, a Jewish child from Warsaw hidden from the Nazis by Righteous Gentiles in Dembniki, Poland.
Digitized flier for an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, New York City, April 13, 1944.
——
These ten items are a very small selection of items concerning the Holocaust held by the partner organizations here at the Center. The types of material are as impressive as the scope; the collections contain newspapers, memoirs, ephemera, archival material, oral histories, photographs, artwork, books and other types of material. Click here to explore the materials. You can also start a reference chat here, send an inquiry here or book a librarian here.

Remembering Kristallnacht
by David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History

November 9th -10th marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a series of attacks on Jews in Germany and Austria that was a turning point for the Nazi Party. Kristallnacht is often looked at as the beginning of the Holocaust.

Each of the five partners of the Center for Jewish History has material on Kristallnacht or the Holocaust. A search of the library catalog, catalog.cjh.org, reveals over 730 records with the word “Kristallnacht” in the description, and over 15,000 with the word “Holocaust.”

The amount of digitized material available to anyone with an internet connection is similarly vast, with 550 results containing the word “Kristallnacht,” including over 100 photographs and over 40 oral histories. Using “Holocaust,” there are over 1,900 results, including more than 300 photographs and 300 oral histories.

The following is a small sampling of relevant holdings from each of our five partners.

American Jewish Historical Society

The oral history of Fred Margulies contains memories of Kristallnacht. It has been digitized and is available online.

There are digitized letters on the conditions in the displaced persons camps. This material was originally in Box 1, Folder 26 of the Abraham Klausner Papers, available here.

American Sephardi Federation

Birkenau (Auschwitz II) : memories of an eyewitness : how 72,000 Greek Jews perished by Albert Menasche, number 124,454. (1947)

The destruction of the Dutch Jews by J. Presser. Translated by Arnold Pomerans. (1969)

Leo Baeck Institute

One example of the many memoirs in the LBI collections is Kristallnacht and Aftermath, November 1938: German original and English translation of notes written in March 1939, in London, three months after release from Dachau concentration camp by Siegfried Koppel. This material has been digitized and is available online.

One example of the many photographs memorializing the event that have been digitized is Wiesbaden Synagogue Burning; Kristallnacht (see above).

Yeshiva University Museum

"Jews Have Always Fought for Freedom” Arthur Szyk image from 1943.

Yom Yahadut Polin Poster From 1945.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Digitized photograph of Shlomo Grzywacz, a Jewish child from Warsaw hidden from the Nazis by Righteous Gentiles in Dembniki, Poland.

Digitized flier for an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, New York City, April 13, 1944.

——

These ten items are a very small selection of items concerning the Holocaust held by the partner organizations here at the Center. The types of material are as impressive as the scope; the collections contain newspapers, memoirs, ephemera, archival material, oral histories, photographs, artwork, books and other types of material. Click here to explore the materials. You can also start a reference chat here, send an inquiry here or book a librarian here.

Conducting Research on Jewish Fighters, WWIIWith a Focus on Ukraine, Belarus and Russiaby J.D. Arden, Reference Services Assistantwith assistance from Aurora Zinder, Volunteer, and David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History
Above image: Kniga Pamiati Voinov-Evreev and Biographical Dictionary of Jewish Resistance
In the Lillian Goldman Reading Room here at the Center for Jewish History, you can explore Hebrew-language compilations of narratives and historical documents that testify to Jewish armed resistance in Europe during World War II. For example, the YIVO Institute holds three volumes published in Israel: Book of the Jewish Partisans / Sefer ha-partizanim ha-Yehudim, Memories of Partisans and Jewish Partisan Units in Belarus.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, more information about Soviet soldiers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) has become available. A 10-volume alphabetical Memory Book index in Russian of the Jewish soldiers who perished on the Soviet front is available in the Reference Section of the Lilian Goldman Reading Room under the title Kniga pamiati voinov-evreev, pavshikh v boiakh s natsizmom, 1941-1945 / Memory Book of Jewish Soldiers, who perished in combat with Nazism. This index is organized alphabetically by last names, and in most cases includes the birth date, death date and hometown of the soldier, and information on whether he died in action or subsequently from battle-related injuries. Some black-and-white photographs are available in a separate chapter. 
For research on soldiers (and some civilians) who were from the republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and were killed during the War, YIVO has a large series of “Memory Books” in Ukrainian, Belorussian and Russian languages. These extensive volumes are indexed by individual towns and regions of each republic. The soldiers of each town are listed alphabetically with brief biographical information (including Jewish or other ethnicity, in some volumes). These and similar books (some that are not related to World War II) are searchable in our catalog under the keyword “pamiati.”  
If you are interested in researching topics related to the geography and history of the War, there are many resources available across the collections of all of the partner organizations of the Center for Jewish History. For example, in the collections of the the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute and the YIVO Institute: Jewish documentary sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus : a preliminary list edited by Dorit Sallis and Marek Web  (Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1996. Online resources include “Letters from the Front: Jewish War Heroes” from the Center for Jewish History and Blavatnik Family Foundation, Memorial Database of Jewish Soldiers, Partisans and Workers Killed in Action during the Nazi Era by the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York; Pobediteli - Soldiers of the Great War, in English and Russian; and a website in Russian with more listings of Jewish Soviet soldiers who perished in detention brigades (shtrafnoi battalion). On the topic of  forced labor, search our archival collection here. 
For more information on how you can access these resources and others like them, chat now with a librarian or schedule an appointment.

Conducting Research on Jewish Fighters, WWII
With a Focus on Ukraine, Belarus and Russia
by J.D. Arden, Reference Services Assistant
with assistance from Aurora Zinder, Volunteer, and David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History

Above image: Kniga Pamiati Voinov-Evreev and Biographical Dictionary of Jewish Resistance

In the Lillian Goldman Reading Room here at the Center for Jewish History, you can explore Hebrew-language compilations of narratives and historical documents that testify to Jewish armed resistance in Europe during World War II. For example, the YIVO Institute holds three volumes published in Israel: Book of the Jewish Partisans / Sefer ha-partizanim ha-YehudimMemories of Partisans and Jewish Partisan Units in Belarus.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, more information about Soviet soldiers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) has become available. A 10-volume alphabetical Memory Book index in Russian of the Jewish soldiers who perished on the Soviet front is available in the Reference Section of the Lilian Goldman Reading Room under the title Kniga pamiati voinov-evreev, pavshikh v boiakh s natsizmom, 1941-1945Memory Book of Jewish Soldiers, who perished in combat with Nazism. This index is organized alphabetically by last names, and in most cases includes the birth date, death date and hometown of the soldier, and information on whether he died in action or subsequently from battle-related injuries. Some black-and-white photographs are available in a separate chapter. 

For research on soldiers (and some civilians) who were from the republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and were killed during the War, YIVO has a large series of “Memory Books” in Ukrainian, Belorussian and Russian languages. These extensive volumes are indexed by individual towns and regions of each republic. The soldiers of each town are listed alphabetically with brief biographical information (including Jewish or other ethnicity, in some volumes). These and similar books (some that are not related to World War II) are searchable in our catalog under the keyword “pamiati.”  

If you are interested in researching topics related to the geography and history of the War, there are many resources available across the collections of all of the partner organizations of the Center for Jewish History. For example, in the collections of the the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute and the YIVO Institute: Jewish documentary sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus : a preliminary list edited by Dorit Sallis and Marek Web  (Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1996. Online resources include “Letters from the Front: Jewish War Heroes” from the Center for Jewish History and Blavatnik Family Foundation, Memorial Database of Jewish Soldiers, Partisans and Workers Killed in Action during the Nazi Era by the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York; Pobediteli - Soldiers of the Great War, in English and Russian; and a website in Russian with more listings of Jewish Soviet soldiers who perished in detention brigades (shtrafnoi battalion). On the topic of  forced labor, search our archival collection here

For more information on how you can access these resources and others like them, chat now with a librarian or schedule an appointment.

An Archive of My OwnOctober 2 – November 9, 2013
Meet the artist, Nino Biniashvili, on Sunday, October 6 from 12pm to 6pm.
In An Archive of My Own, Nino Biniashvili commits acts of artistic recovery. She rescues rare archival materials from obscurity and transforms them into compelling art exploring Georgian-Jewish experience. 
In an exhibition that challenges traditional methods of history-making, Ms. Biniashvili brings history home. She answers Virginia Woolf’s insistence that a female artist have access to a personal study. An Archive of My Own is Biniashvili’s “room of her own”—a space that feels at once domestic and revolutionary. 
A wooden table, chair and lamp, a large picture-book, a house plant and projected slides invite you into a world of actively engaging with the past for a meaningful experience of the present.
Ms. Biniashvili grew up in Georgia during the last years of the Soviet Union. As a Prins Fellow at the Center for Jewish History, she focused her historical inquiry on material available from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, one of the Center’s partners. The slides that she found inspired her drawings. 
In her art Ms. Biniashvili challenges borders between external and internal, collective and individual, historic specificity and timelessness. Her project explores the role an artist can have in investigating, interpreting and representing history—and the ways in which delving into archives can help us discover new things about our families and ourselves.

An Archive of My Own
October 2 – November 9, 2013

Meet the artist, Nino Biniashvili, on Sunday, October 6 from 12pm to 6pm.

In An Archive of My Own, Nino Biniashvili commits acts of artistic recovery. She rescues rare archival materials from obscurity and transforms them into compelling art exploring Georgian-Jewish experience. 

In an exhibition that challenges traditional methods of history-making, Ms. Biniashvili brings history home. She answers Virginia Woolf’s insistence that a female artist have access to a personal study. An Archive of My Own is Biniashvili’s “room of her own”—a space that feels at once domestic and revolutionary. 

A wooden table, chair and lamp, a large picture-book, a house plant and projected slides invite you into a world of actively engaging with the past for a meaningful experience of the present.

Ms. Biniashvili grew up in Georgia during the last years of the Soviet Union. As a Prins Fellow at the Center for Jewish History, she focused her historical inquiry on material available from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, one of the Center’s partners. The slides that she found inspired her drawings. 

In her art Ms. Biniashvili challenges borders between external and internal, collective and individual, historic specificity and timelessness. Her project explores the role an artist can have in investigating, interpreting and representing history—and the ways in which delving into archives can help us discover new things about our families and ourselves.