January 21, 2008

Book: "The Unknown Black Book "

Previously censored accounts of Nazi genocide in the Soviet territories. Via the WSJ:

"The Unknown Black Book" is the first publication of materials excluded for political reasons from "The Black Book," a collection of survivors' testimony that was compiled toward the end of the war but then ran afoul of the Stalinist regime -- even after it was heavily censored -- and fell into political limbo for decades. The project traces its roots to February 1942, when the Soviet government established the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) in an effort to drum up international support as the Red Army struggled to withstand the onslaught of the German Wehrmacht.

Headed by the Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels and staffed by other well-known actors, writers and poets, the JAC did its job for a year, publishing articles, making radio broadcasts and hosting visitors in Moscow. But when the fortunes of war changed after the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in 1943, the regime began to have second thoughts about the JAC.

It is impossible to convey the full impact of these testimonies in a short review. But a few examples may provide an inkling of the nature of the material. Sara Gleykh described the destruction of the Jewish population of Mariupol, a city in the Ukraine. The Germans arrived there on Oct. 8, 1941, and immediately instituted anti-Jewish measures. On Oct. 18, Sara's family was ordered to leave their apartment for resettlement: Neighbors, told that they could "take whatever they wanted," Sara recalled, "all rushed into the apartment" and "quarreled over things before my eyes, snatching things out of each other's hands and dragging off pillows, pots and pans, quilts." That day, the 9,000 Jews of the city were murdered. Sara, who lost her entire family, climbed out of the mass grave and eventually reached the Soviet lines.