Dr. Haim Gertner
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20 February 2017
The Professor Yaffa Eliach Shtetl Collection, one of the largest private Holocaust-related collections of its kind, is now available online on Yad Vashem's website. The collection consists of recorded testimonies, transcripts, diaries, authentic memoirs and original documents in English, Hebrew, Polish, German, Russian and Yiddish; individual photographs and photo albums; and articles the late Professor composed regarding the history of Eastern European Jews in general, and about Eishyshok, her native town in Lithuania, in particular. Prof. Eliach also published several books about the Holocaust, including There Was Once a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust and Holocaust Oral Manual History. Prof. Yaffa Eliach passed away on 8 November 2016 at the age of 79.
World-renowned Holocaust scholar and survivor Prof. Yaffa Eliach was honored today at a special event hosted by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in the presence of her family members, Holocaust survivors, students and colleagues alike. The event, marking the receipt of her personal collection by the Yad Vashem Archives, celebrated her life's work as one of the leading pioneers in Holocaust research, documentation and commemoration. Many in attendance at the event reflected on the special impact Prof. Eliach had on the Jewish world.
The more than 500 archival containers holding her vast collection was received by Yad Vashem and is cataloged in the Yad Vashem Archives as an independent archival division, available to both researchers and the greater public. "This important collection is one of the first 'micro-history projects' on the Holocaust," explained Yad Vashem's Archives Director and Fred Hillman Chair for Holocaust Documentation Dr. Haim Gertner. "The more than 6,000 photographs in the collection provide a visual testimony of the existence of the town of Eishishok, where over ninety percent of one town's population was murdered during the Holocaust. I want to thank the Eliach family for bringing Yaffa's collection to Yad Vashem."
Prof. Eliach's groundbreaking methodologies, including collecting Holocaust survivor testimony, has become a foundation for Holocaust research, commemoration and education. Rabbi Dr. David Eliach, Prof. Eliach's widower, remarked on her unique attributes and life's mission: "She had a huge impact on so many people's lives," he said. "Through Yaffa's research, millions of people have been given the opportunity to connect with the victims of the Shoah and to relate to their inner humanity. She understood that it is vital to learn about the Holocaust through survivor testimony and the personal stories of the victims; not to view the Jews of Europe as the target of the Nazis and their accomplices, but to remember their lives before the war. Her legacy will continue for years to come, and the song of her life continues even in her absence."