Newsletter No. 22, August 2011
70 Years Since Operation Barbarossa
Marking 70 years since the German Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Operation Barbarossa, the Center for Research on the History of Soviet Jews during the Holocaust at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research held a daylong symposium in June exploring the invasion as an ideological war. Historians discussed political, economic and ideological aspects of the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and its critical and destructive impact on the Jews living in those areas; the Wehrmacht’s role in the murder of Jews in the first months of the Eastern front war; and the Jews’ mistaken beliefs in the great military power of the Red Army and that antisemitism among Soviet citizens was a matter of the past. The Symposium took place with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group and European Jewish Fund, and the Gutwirth Family Fund.
New Works Grace Holocaust Art Museum
At the end of July, four new pieces of artwork went on display at the Museum of Holocaust Art. The pieces were drawn by eleven-year-old Renata Braun while she was in hiding during the Shoah. During the war, Renata was hidden in exchange for payment with the widow of a Polish physician. During long hours hiding in the cellar, Renata expressed her longing for her family in colorful illustrations, drawing renderings of her mother from photographs as well as images based on beloved childhood stories and poems. Renata's daughter, artist Maya Cohen Levy, recently donated seven of her mother's artworks to Yad Vashem where they join other pieces created during the Holocaust. There they stand testament to her mother's life during the Holocaust while expressing her unique creativity.
Spotlight on the Web
Focus on Operation Barbarossa
A new mini-site dedicated to Operation Barbarossa has been uploaded to http://www.yadvashem.org/. It is now 70 years since the military invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 which marked a turning point in the Nazis' plan to "solve the Jewish problem." Hundreds of thousands of Jews managed to flee into the depths of the Soviet Union, but approximately 2 million Jews remained under Nazi occupation and were the victims of mass murder carried out by the Einsatzgruppen units. In less than half a year, by the end of 1941, about half a million Jews had been murdered within the areas of the Soviet Union conquered by the Nazis.
Visual Center Film Database Now Online
Yad Vashem’s Visual Center Database, the largest catalogue of Holocaust related films, is now online. The database is a work in progress, and film titles from around the world are added on a regular basis. The database currently consists of 6,682 titles, including some 4,000 documentaries, 1,000 full length feature films, 400 television series, 250 personal commemoration and home videos, as well as other visual media such as video art, video dance, news items, war diaries, short films and more. The easily searchable online catalogue contains detailed information about the films, including commercial, artistic, historical and geographical data.
30 Employees Receive Certificates of Appreciation
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Director General Natan Eitan presented certificates of appreciation to the employees who fought the fire that threatened Yad Vashem in mid-July. At a special ceremony they paid tribute to some 30 Yad Vashem workers who stood on the front lines. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev commended the group of Jewish and Arab workers for their courage, and noted they did not hesitate to place themselves on the frontlines of the fire, implementing training they had received earlier this year. "I am here to tell you, friends: You did the job." In the words of Sami Abu-Diab, one of Yad Vashem's longtime workers, "I have been at Yad Vashem for 12 years, taking part in Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremonies. The night of the fire, I spent the night at Yad Vashem with 2 other workers as well as firefighters. This is like our home, it is our place."
Names Recovery - Remarkable Stories of Discovery
In recent years, new technologies have made it easier to track down individuals around the globe. The Names Recovery Project's new "Connections and Discoveries" section on the Yad Vashem website feature some of the remarkable stories of people who have discovered relatives with whom they had lost contact in the wake of the Shoah. You are welcome to send in a personal discovery or reunion story to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Man Who Was Murdered Twice: The Life, Trial and Death of Israel Kasztner
Was Kasztner a collaborator and opportunist, who had “sold his soul to the devil”, as Judge Benjamin Halevi stated, who failed to warn the Transylvanian and Hungarian Jews of their impending fate in order to survive and save those close to him, or a brave leader who helped as many Jews as he could escape on the “rescue train” in June 1944? The present volume provides new information on the controversy, based on a variety of new documents. The book covers the history of Kasztner’s negotiations with the Nazis to his death and posthumous results of the trial and discusses his complex personality. The book, with a catalogue price of $58.00, may be purchased online at a 25% discount. Special discounts are available for educational institutions and libraries. Please contact the Publications Department for details.
Yad Vashem Visual Center launches largest database of Holocaust related films, on EJP.org
Yad Vashem praises Arab staff for fighting Jerusalem Forest fire, in Haaretz
Israel fire threatened Yad Vashem, in the Boston Globe
Holocaust 101 at Yad Vashem in the Canadian Jewish News