Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow: A Guide to Jewish Historical and Cultural Collections in the Russian State Military Archive

A Book Published in Association with JTS and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089

April 11, 2011, New York, NY

Project Judaica, a Jewish studies and leadership-training program based in Moscow that is sponsored jointly by The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the Russian State University for the Humanities, recently published a book in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Entitled Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow: A Guide to Jewish Historical and Cultural Collections in the Russian State Military Archive, the book is edited by Dr. David E. Fishman, professor of Jewish History at JTS and director of Project Judaica; Mark Kupovetsky; and Vladimir Kuzelenkov.

During the Nazis’ ascendancy and 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 used as sources for an institute to study the “Jewish Question.” When the Germans were finally defeated, many of these looted collections, as well as records from Nazi state agencies that had 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 catalog 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 left of a culture 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.

Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow reveals a valuable and for-decades hidden treasure trove of Jewish documents related to Modern Jewish history, Kabbalah, Hasidism, rabbinics, and Hebrew literature,” says Professor Fishman. “Who would have thought that pre-World War II records of the World Jewish Congress, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, World Union of Jewish Students, and Joint Distribution Committee are in Moscow? In addition to its value as an archival research tool, this book will also be used to present claims for the collections’ return to their original owners. The restitution of Jewish archives held in Moscow is now a hot issue. The Schneerson collection and the Salonika Jewish community collection are both presently the subjects of lawsuits and diplomatic clashes, with Chabad Lubavitch and the Salonika Jewish community demanding that Russia return their archives to them.”

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