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"Such a Beautiful Sunny Day": new book tells the untold story of the Jewish struggle for survival in the Polish countryside, 1942-1945

14 March 2017

On Wednesday, 15 March 2017, Yad Vashem's Center for Research on the Holocaust in Poland will hold a symposium marking the publication of the new Yad Vashem book, Such a Beautiful Sunny Day by Prof. Barbara Engelking. In this groundbreaking study, Prof. Engelking sheds light on an aspect of the Holocaust in Poland that until now had not been systematically investigated: Jews seeking refuge in the Polish countryside in the years 1942-1945. While many books discuss the suffering and murder of Jews in the various ghettos and camps during WWII, relatively little was known about the struggle of those who managed to escape to the Polish countryside and the threats and challenges they faced there.

The symposium will take place at the Constantiner Lecture Hall at Yad Vashem at 10:00. Proceedings will be held in Hebrew and English with simultaneous translation.

 Prof. Havi Dreifuss, Director of the Center for Research on the Holocaust in Poland at Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research, and a professor at Tel Aviv University will give the opening remarks. She will be followed by Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress, who will speak on "Deconstructing Wartime Polish-Jewish Relations in the Countryside." Additional speakers include Dr. Robert Rozett, Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, who will lecture on "Intimate Persecution"; Natalie Beige of Tel Aviv University, who will discuss the Holocaust in the Lithuanian provinces; and Prof. Dina Porat, Yad Vashem Historian and Tel Aviv University, who will present, "Poland and the Reasons for the Jewish Desire to take Revenge on the Germans."

The event will end with a roundtable discussion of renowned scholars, including Prof. Barbara Engelking, Yad Vashem Academic Advisor Prof. Yehuda Bauer and Prof. Havi Dreifuss. Dr. David Silberklang, Senior Historian at the International Institute for Holocaust Research, will moderate the discussion.

"This important research sheds light on an unknown aspect of the Holocaust in Poland," says Prof. Havi Dreifuss. "It tells the story of hundreds of thousands of Jews who tried to find refuge from Nazi Germany's murderous acts within the Polish rural population. This research reveals not only the immense Jewish efforts to escape, but their despair and helplessness. It also exposes the terrible reality in which these Jews found themselves: a reality where very few acts of kindness were lost among the countless acts of cruelty, abuse and malice."

Press interested in covering this conference, or for more information regarding the activities of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, please contact: media.relations@yadvashem.org.il