Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Long-Awaited Lithuanian Holocaust Collection


By Ann Rabinowitz

 
 

Leib Koniuchowsky

1947, Rosenheim, Germany

Fascinating is the long-delayed release of the Koniuchowsky collection of 1,680 pages of Lithuanian Holocaust survivor testimonies which has been reviewed in Haaretz in Israel by Dr. Efraim Zuroff: http://www.haaretz.com/culture/books/remembering-the-lithuanian-jews-killed-by-their-neighbors-1.466562 He also mentions several other resources which have become available including Ellen Cassedy's new book.

One of the unique aspects of the collection is how it was put together and how Leyb Koniuchowsky (1910-2003), who was born in Alytus, Lithuania, and survived the Kovno Ghetto, developed the questionnaires that were used. This is discussed in a book that may interest many research which was edited by David Bankier and Dan Michman that is entitled: "Holocaust Historiography in Context, Emergence Challenges Polemics and Achievements": http://books.google.com/books?id=aNzjTUT6jdYC&pg=PA488&lpg=PA488&dq=koniuchowsky&source=bl&ots=U_jG554CdP&sig=ziu_IZ1kxB3P12sMS-31VF9U9W8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xJERUfutM8GjyAGisYDYCg&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=koniuchowsky&f=false

Additionally, researchers can visit the Yad Vashem site for discussion of the testimonies:  http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/about/institute/lithuanian_testimonies.asp as well as

being able to view 96 out of 157 photographs which accompanied some of the testimonies in the Koniuchowsky collection:  http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/70058-container.html  One can also purchase the 2011 book about the testimonies by David Bankier which is entitled Expulsion and Extermination, Holocaust Testimonials from Provincial Lithuania.

An example of the sort of photographs which are in the collection are some of the following:

 

Eishishok Cemetery, 1916
 

Alitus, 19, A Street in the Town
 
 

Neustadt, Poland

 

Rose Rakhmil
Kvedarna, June 22, 1948

 
Zagare, A Street Scene, 1925

The 170 Yiddish language testimonies cover interviews with survivors which were conducted from 1945-1949 regarding the following districts:  Alytus, Birzai, Eisiskiai, Keidainiai, Kaunas, Kretinga, Lazdikai, Marijampole, Mazeikiai, Panevezys, Raseiniai, Rokiskis, Sakiai, Siauliai, Svencionys, Taurage, Telsiai, Trakai, Utena, Ukmerge, Vikaviskis, Vilnius and Zarasai.

An example of one testimony is about what transpired in Rumsiskis, Lithuania:  http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/Rumsiskes/Koniuchowsky.htm which is found on the JewishGen Rumsiskes Kehilalinks site.

Combined with the photographs, the testimonies are a powerful tool for family research during the Holocaust.  They point out viscerally the integral part played by the Lithuanian neighbors of the Jews in their destruction.  Besides the originals of the testimonies being housed at Yad Vashem, there is a copy of the typescript of the Yiddish with English translation at YIVO and at the New York Public Library.

 

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