29 November 2016
Starting yesterday, The Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union will be hosting a two-day international workshop at Yad Vashem, during which leading researchers and experts from the United States, Canada, Israel, Holland, Russia and Moldova will discuss topics relating to the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. Included in the discussion will be the question as to what extent the war and wartime propaganda influenced broad segments of the population in Nazi-occupied Soviet territories. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will present the preliminary results of their research on how the Holocaust affected the impressions of Jews and non-Jews towards each other.
"This workshop is a first step to highlighting the similarities and differences that evolved over various geographical areas of the occupied Soviet Union," explains Mirilashvili Center Director Dr. Arkady Zeltser. "The interactions between Jews and non-Jews during World War II were based largely on stereotypes that existed before the war. However, during the war, they were given a new shape and became even more pronounced."
For the Jews of the Soviet Union, interethnic relations took on even greater importance during the Second World War, especially regarding the Holocaust. Testimonies written by both Jews and non-Jews have indicated how during the first few weeks of the war generally friendly relations between the two population groups became strained. This was the situation not only in the Red Army, but also throughout the Soviet interior and, especially, in territories under German or Romanian rule. Indeed, interethnic relations often played a key role in the survival â€“ or not â€“ of the Jews.
According to Prof. Dan Michman, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, "The Soviet Union was a multinational country, which officially advocated a 'brotherhood of nations.' However, in practice, the history of interethnic relations in the various parts of the Soviet Union was multifaceted, and affected by many factors. This workshop plays an important part in defining those changing interethnic relations during the course of the Second World War."
The Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union opened in May 2016 and is leading groundbreaking global academic discourse on the Nazi-led persecution and slaughter of Jews in occupied Soviet territories during WWII. The Center strengthens ties with relevant researchers and organizations, encourages international scholarly cooperation, and advances pioneering research in all related areas through new research projects, publications and testimonies, and workshops, seminars and conferences for senior and young scholars alike.