Wednesday, 05 October 2011

Breakthrough In Access to Archives In Lithuania, Ukraine & Belarus

Recently Yad Vashem signed a breakthrough agreement with the national archives of Lithuania, and will soon sign new agreements with the national archives in Ukraine and Belarus. Under the agreements, Yad Vashem will copy numerous documents related to the Holocaust period located in the state archives of Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus. A similar agreement was signed earlier this year with the Ukrainian SBU (secret service) archives. Bringing copies of these archives to Yad Vashem will make them available to researchers in Israel and around the world. The project to copy the archival documentation in the former Soviet Union is made possible thanks to the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the European Jewish Fund.

“This is a significant achievement,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “In many cases the documentation of the murder of the Jews in these areas is actually found in the municipal bureaucratic correspondence, ranging from that of the local villages to the state level. Acquiring this material will help enhance research into the Holocaust in the areas of the FSU, as well as assist the recovery of names of Jews murdered in these areas.”

The archives contain official documentation of the occupying Nazi regime, as well as that of the local authorities, which sheds light on the Holocaust period, in particular the critical years of 1941-43. Among the material in the archives is interesting documentation from the village, city and regional administrations, from which it is possible to get details about the daily life of the Jews before and after ghettos was established.

Documents such as official requests from the local authorities to the Germans regarding Jewish artisans in the ghetto, or a city ordinance forbidding the confiscation of Jewish property by theft, but requiring it to be brought in an orderly fashion to the city warehouses are among the archival materials. Among the documents, are many lists of Jews’ names, including lists of victims, forced laborers, residents of particular towns, Jewish partisans and more.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)