Holocaust Oral History Project - Belarus
Emma Zanger Death Certificate - Issued while she was still alive
There are less than 300-plus Holocaust survivors living in Belarus today. Dr. Speckhard has interviewed 65 who represent most, if not all, of the Minsk ghetto survivors who are still physically and mentally able to handle an interview. Now that the oral histories are collected, Dr. Speckhard has assembled a team comprising three Belarusian historians from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Archives, and two historians working in the Great Patriotic War Museum in Minsk, and a research assistant to help her conduct research in the Belarusian archives for the historical materials to support writing the oral histories into a comprehensive and definitive eye-witness account of the Minsk ghetto and the Holocaust in Belarus.
Dr. Speckhard is currently fundraising for and writing a historical book about the Minsk ghetto entitled: The Minsk Ghetto & Beyond: Eyewitness Accounts of the Holocaust in Belarus and fundraising for the development of a website related to the Holocaust history of Minsk.
The book is to be an academic work appropriate for university courses and will describe the Minsk ghetto and this period of Belarusian history through eyewitness accounts that will be corroborated by the factual historical details. This work will be much more than a technical history of the Holocaust in Belarus; it will be enriched and enlivened by the voices of the survivors themselves. The website will be more accessible to a wider audience than the book, will include photographs, and be written in both English and Russian. The project is time sensitive in that the remaining survivors are few in number and dying off rapidly; the average age of the survivors is over eighty.
There are very few accounts written about the Belarus Jews far fewer than for any of the other European countries, such as Poland and Ukraine. Most that were written have been non-academic and focused on the partisan fighters. The main reason for the paucity of historical work has been the difficulty of working in the former Soviet union and now in the Republic of Belarus.Because of Dr. Speckhard’s commitment to this project, both time-wise and financially – self funding the majority of the research - she has been able to complete the first portion of the project without major donor funds. Now the book must be written. It is important for young people in Minsk, Belarus and throughout the world to know about these events, not just because of the inherent value of understanding history, but also so they can also understand why it is so important to millions of Jews to have a country of their own, a place where they can always find sanctity and safety. With funding, this project will be able to achieve two important objectives: a comprehensive academic history of the Minsk Ghetto and an educational website in both Russian and English about the Holocaust in Belarus. After all these years of neglect, the Jews in Belarus deserve to see this accomplished in their lifetimes.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to seeing this project to fruition please contact Dr. Speckhard at Anne.Speckhard@gmail.com. Arrangements can be made to receive the funds through a Jewish nonprofit organization if desired. As the research has been nearly all self funded to date and the data collection, travel and professional time devoted to the project (by Dr. Speckhard and other experts ) are each expensive, all financial contributions are most welcome. Special thanks to Lufthansa, Frank and Galina Swartz, and to the Remembrance & Reconciliation Fund for their contributions to this important work.
Speckhard, A. Beyond the Pale: Chronicles of the Minsk Ghetto and Holocaust in Belarus. Historical manuscript in pre-publication process. 2011.
Speckhard, A. “Minsk” - Entry for the Encyclopedia on Nazi Ghettos, Martin Dean editor U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. 2005.
"Bearing Witness over Time: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Aging in Survivors of the Holocaust in Belarus" Chapter in the conference proceedings of “Camp of Trostinetz and Problems of Genocide during the Second World War”, Belarusian State University, April 25, 2002. Minsk, Belarus. 2002.
"The Story is not yet Finished, Memories for the Future: A Report of Holocaust Oral Histories from Belarus" Chapter in the conference proceedings Places of Destruction in Belarus: The History of the Minsk Ghetto and Concentration Camp of Trostenez IBB Dortmund, Germany. 2002.