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During the Nazis’ ascendency and their subsequent occupation of much of Europe, they plundered the documents and other cultural treasures of Jewish organizations and of other groups and individuals they deemed to be enemies of the Reich. It seems likely that many of these materials were to be sources for an institute to study the “Jewish Question.” When the Germans finally were crushed, many of these looted collections, as well as records of Nazi state agencies that persecuted and murdered Jews, were discovered by the Soviet Army. The collections were transferred to Moscow and held for decades in the closed, secret “Special Archive of the USSR,” which eventually was absorbed by the Russian State Military Archive. Now accessible in Moscow, and with some of the records more recently available in their countries of origin and in the United States, this catalogue and guide supplies the first comprehensive, collection-by-collection, English-language description of this rich historical and cultural documentation that the Nazis meant to be among the only vestiges of the millions of victims they would purposefully annihilate. Scholars and lay researchers will find this reference a unique and indispensible guide to the invaluable remains of a world that was destroyed.
“Taken by Soviet trophy brigades from the Nazis, ….[these are] documents…that could help to reconstruct how Jews lived before and during the Holocaust. The book…includes a description of the ….trove of thousands of religious books, manuscripts and handwritten documents, known as the [Chabad-Lubavitch] Schneerson Collection….captured during World War II.”
— Associated Press
“A valuable contribution to the vast literature on the interrelated topics of Holocaust assets and the ‘spoils of war.’....Publication of this guide is to be welcomed by researchers.”
— H-Judaic, by Zachary M. Baker, Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections in the Stanford University Libraries, and editor-in-chief of Judaica Librarianship
“Of particular interest to graduate students, scholars, and researchers in Jewish studies, it provides a comprehensive description of Jewish archives plundered by the Nazis during WWII [and] that are now held by the Russian State Military Archive. Although most of the material dates from 1860 to 1939, some historical documents and Hebrew manuscripts from the medieval and early modern periods, along with rabbinical writings from the 18th and early 19th centuries, are preserved....In a concise and informative introduction, the ... editors describe the looting and ultimate preservation ... of these collections.... Highly recommended.”
— Choice, by Dana Herman, managing editor, AJA Journal, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
“An extraordinary guide.”
— Dr. Jerry Hochbaum, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
“It is evident from these collection level descriptions that the Russian State Military Archive contains a veritable treasure trove for the scholarly researcher of pre-war and Nazi-era Jewish cultural, social, and economic history....Since the archive was opened up to a broader public...this is the first English language guide, and the most comprehensive list of archives containing material specifically of Jewish interest. As such it is a valuable tool for the scholarly researcher....Each entry is succinct and contains all the essential information you would expect from a collection/fonds level guide. The adherence to strict format enables the user to access those parts of each entry quickly and efficiently....A comprehensive personal name index and a separate place name/organization name/subject index further facilitates access to the contents of the guide....These archives are the last trace of once vibrant Jewish communities throughout Europe. They document the richness and diversity of those cultures which have largely been destroyed as a result of the Holocaust. Their existence has been hidden from the outside world for many years. This guide will go some way to flag up this material to a much wider public.”
— Journal of the Society of Archivists, by Howard Falksohn, archivist, the Wiener Library
David E. Fishman is Professor of Jewish History and Director of Project Judaica at The Jewish Theological Seminary (New York).
Mark Kupovetsky is Executive Director of the Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies at the Russian State University for the Humanities.
Vladimir Kuzelenkov is Director of the Russian State Military Archive.