Remnants and Recollections: The Experience of Sephardi Jews during the Holocaust
What can an ordinary wedding photo tell you about the struggle to survive of a centuries-old culture? Or a private letter, about the ordeal faced by an entire community at a particular point in history? Or a simple dress, about the will for rebirth?
That is the challenge facing curators in the Collections Division of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as they accumulate, document, and preserve the evidence of the Holocaust. Artists and filmmakers flock to the Museum to mine its ever-growing collection of documents, photographs, films, testimonies, and artifacts.
Increasing public interest in the fate of Jews of Spanish and Greek descent living in southeastern Europe has prompted the Collections Division to scout out new sources of material about these communities and reexamine older collections in order to identify those that bear witness to the experience of Sephardi Jews. The resulting growing body of physical evidence documents the unique conditions and experiences of Sephardi Jews in southern Europe before, during, and immediately after the Holocaust.
Popular orchestras featuring the mandolin, like this one in Rhodes, were prevalent throughout the Balkans during the early twentieth century.
Jews of the Spanish Homeland
This 1929 documentary film titled “Jews of the Spanish Homeland” contains close-ups of the leading Balkan Sephardi rabbis of the time and rare footage of Jewish schools, residential quarters, synagogues, and cemeteries as well as a sampling of Sephardi religious customs.
Born April 29, 1927, Athens, Greece
Isaac Nehama describes his mother’s traditional cooking [2003 interview]
Performed by Dr. Avram Sadikario, Skopje, 1993
Recorded by Susana Weich-Shahak
Lyrics translated from Ladino by Isaac Nehama
Source S. Weich-Shahak collection in the National Sound Archives at the National Jewish and University Library in Jerusalem
- Quen pensa de se enamorar (Whoever thinks of falling in love)
- Arboles lloran por luvia (Trees cry for rain)
- Buenos días, molinero (Good morning, miller!)
In 1943, Victoria Sarfati and Yehuda Beraha hastily arranged their wedding in German-occupied Salonika to enable them to stay together during the uncertain times that lay ahead.
On March 11, 1943, within a few days of the departure of the first deportation trains from Salonika, the 3,276 Sephardi Jews of the Macedonian city of Bitola (Monastir) were rounded up by Bulgarian occupation authorities.
Norbert Yasharoff's Letter
This letter, which is one of the very few eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust in Bulgaria, was long assumed by its writer to have been lost.
Performed by Miriam Baruch, 1943
Recorded by Fidel Baruch
Flory (Floritza) Jagoda
Born 1923, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
Flory Jagoda describes anti-Jewish measures following the occupation of Zagreb.
Dora and Sarina Levy
Dora Levy and her mother Sarina thought their ordeal was over when they were liberated by the British army in October 1944.