No Place on Earth brings to light an extraordinary true tale of survival that remained untold for decades. In 1993, Chris Nicola, an American cave enthusiast, was exploring the Ukraine’s “gypsum giants,” some of the longest horizontal caves in the world. Within this labyrinth, he came across signs of former human habitation: buttons, an old house key, a woman’s dress shoe. Locals told him that during World War II, there were rumours of Jewish families hiding from the Nazis in the caves. No one knew what happened to them; over ninety-five per cent of the Jews in this region of Ukraine perished in the Holocaust. It took Nicola nine years to uncover the secret that the cave survivors had kept to themselves after emigrating to Canada and the United States — now, they were ready to tell their story. Built upon interviews with five former cave inhabitants, No Place on Earth is a testament to ingenuity, willpower and endurance against all odds. In total, thirty-eight people of all ages wound up living in the caves for nearly eighteen months, until the region was liberated by Soviet Army — the longest underground survival in recorded human history. The survivors recount their harrowing experiences in this harsh environment as they learned to find food, water and supplies and built secret escape routes to evade capture or being buried alive. Director Janet Tobias brings their memories to life with artful re-enactments that vividly recreate this unimaginable existence beneath the earth.
Posts tagged shoah.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 // 7:30pm
Buttenwieser Hall, Lexington Avenue at 92nd St, NY
Images of the Holocaust have been iconic in the West, shaping and reflecting collective memory. But in the Soviet Union, the very notion of the Holocaust did not exist, and images of violence against Jews were silenced. Join Olga Gershenson as we explore these forgotten films and restore the missing pieces.
(via Soviet Samovar)
Born in 1925 in Lenin, Poland, Schulman grew up in a small town in what is now Belarus. In 1939, Russia and Germany divided Poland, and Lenin fell under Russian jurisdiction.
Schulman’s brother, a photographer, taught her how to take pictures, process negatives and develop prints. She worked as his assistant. She also knew a little about medicine, as her brother-in-law was a doctor.
When the Nazis invaded in 1941, they forced the town’s 1,800 Jews into a ghetto — except for six “useful Jews.” Among them: a tailor, a carpenter and a photographer.
Schulman was recruited to take pictures for the Nazis (her brother had already fled town). She would snap headshots of Nazi officials and portraits of their mistresses.
One day, she developed a photograph that was clearly a mass grave of Jews who had been killed. Peering closely at the print, she recognized her own family. She hid the negative in a box of photo paper to assure it would remain safe and unseen.
She vowed vengeance and sought justice in the forest with a group of Russians — mostly men and overwhelmingly non-Jews — she’d met up with when they raided Lenin for supplies.
She begged them to take her along. They were doubtful of her worth; what good was a woman? But she promised she could serve as a doctor’s assistant, and they accepted her into the group.
She recovered her photography equipment during a subsequent raid on Lenin.
Schulman hid her Jewish identity. During Passover, she ate only potatoes, never explaining why.
She made sure her fellow partisans remained healthy through the harshness of winter, and tended to their periodic battle wounds.
She made her own stop bath and fixer, and buried bottles of the solutions in holes in the ground, retrieving them when needed.
For two years, she lived in the forest and documented life there. She would make “sun prints” by putting the negative next to photographic paper and holding it toward the sun. She’d then give them to fellow resistance fighters.
“They treasured their pictures and respected me for it,” she said.
She married after the war. She and her husband, Morris, could take very little with them to the displaced persons camp in Germany. Though she had very few belongings after two years in the forest, Schulman possessed many, many photos and negatives. She selected only her favorite prints and negatives to take with her to the DP camp, where she spent three years. She brought those with her to Canada.
In the [“Pictures of Resistance: The Photography of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman”] exhibit, each photo is paired with a lengthy explanation of the image. The text is in Schulman’s own words, recorded during an interview Braff conducted with her in her Toronto home in 2005.
She also wrote a book chronicling her story. “A Partisan’s Memoir: Woman of the Holocaust” was published in 1995.
“I want people to know there was resistance,” Faye said during that interview, the text of which is displayed with the photo exhibit.
“Jewish people didn’t go like sheep to the slaughter … I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof.” (via jweekly)
more on Faye Schulman
a Jewish partisan in eastern Poland (now Belarus), WWII
from the exhibition Pictures of Resistance: The Wartime Photography of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman, Galicia Jewish Museum
This Jewish partisan actually is Faye Schulman in 1943.
Marc Chagall - Frontispiece for a French limited edition of The Diary of Anne Frank (1959 lithograph)
Nearly 60,000 Jews and political prisoners died at Salaspils in 1941 and 1942.
Evgenii Khaldei, Budapest Ghetto, 1945
A part of the Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust exhibition at the CU Art Museum, based on David Shneer’s book of the same name.
Most view the relationship of Jews to the Soviet Union through the lens of repression and silence. Focusing on an elite group of two dozen Soviet-Jewish photographers, including Arkady Shaykhet, Alexander Grinberg, Mark Markov-Grinberg, Evgenii Khaldei, Dmitrii Baltermants, and Max Alpert, Through Soviet Jewish Eyes presents a different picture. These artists participated in a social project they believed in and with which they were emotionally and intellectually invested—they were charged by the Stalinist state to tell the visual story of the unprecedented horror we now call the Holocaust.
These wartime photographers were the first liberators to bear witness with cameras to Nazi atrocities, three years before Americans arrived at Buchenwald and Dachau.
Through Soviet Jewish Eyes helps us understand why so many Jews flocked to Soviet photography; what their lives and work looked like during the rise of Stalinism, during and then after the war; and why Jews were the ones charged with documenting the Soviet experiment and then its near destruction at the hands of the Nazis.
Reblogging because the curated exhibition Through Soviet Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust is coming to New York!
Professor David Shneer will be attending the exhibition’s opening at the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage on November 15, 6-8pm (event info). Register by November 7.
The critically acclaimed exhibition will run from November 16, 2012 - April 7, 2013.
Much of Shanghai’s Jewish Quarter has disappeared, but visitors still can see some of the buildings, like this one, where thousands of refugees lived alongside the city’s residents.
Jewish Life in Shanghai’s Ghetto (The New York Times)
By CASEY HALL
Published: June 19, 2012
SHANGHAI - While much of the city’s Jewish Quarter has disappeared in the years since the end of World War II, the Ohel Moshe Synagogue is a constant reminder of how this Chinese city saved tens of thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
Built by Russian Jews in 1927 in the Hongkou district in northern Shanghai, the synagogue was the primary religious destination for the Jewish refugees who flooded into the city.
And while its facade has not changed, the building now is the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. It is the first stop for many visitors seeking information about what the Holocaust scholar David Kranzler called the “Miracle of Shanghai.”
About 20,000 refugees settled around the synagogue, in an area called the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees but more commonly known as the Jewish Ghetto. The 2.68 square kilometers, or about a square mile, which was cordoned off by the Japanese who controlled the city, also was home to 100,000 Shanghaiese, who were welcoming to their new neighbors, according to Jian Chen, the museum’s director.
“After the end of the Pacific War in 1945, the European Jewish refugees slowly left Shanghai,” Mr. Chen said. “However, they always looked upon Shanghai as their second home, calling the city their ‘Noah’s Ark’.”
(via Soviet Samovar)
The documents are expected to help researchers measure the scope of persecution and extermination of Jews in the former Soviet Union.
More than a million new testimonial pages about Jews in the Soviet Union will be released by Yad Vashem, starting next week, in the wake of agreements with the KGB archives and the national archives of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The documents, which include personal papers belonging to World War II survivors from these states, are expected to help researchers measure the scope of persecution and extermination of Jews in the former Soviet Union.
“There are many black holes concerning communities and individuals in Central and Eastern Europe, where the majority of Jews lived,” says Dr. Haim Gertner, head of the archives division of the Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation and Education. “It has been very difficult for us to copy records from this region; it includes entire villages that were wiped out by the Nazis in one day, and nobody was left to narrate what happened.” Read more.
“The Holocaust of Jews in the former Soviet Union was never written about as a phenomenon of genocide. They (the Soviets ) claimed that Soviet Jews were murdered as Soviet citizens, not as Jews,” says Zeltser, adding that the process of breaking the silence “will be a very long one.”
During World War II, Soviet Jews constituted one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, with over three million Jews living in the Soviet Union in 1939. In many ways Soviet Jews shared the fate of their European brethren. Almost two million of them were killed during the War. Shot in pits and mass graves near the villages and towns where they lived, they were not transported to death camps. In many places, there is no memory left of the once vibrant Jewish communities.
Over five hundred thousand Soviet Jews fought in the Red Army. Among them, 140,000 were killed. Almost nine hundred thousand Soviet Jews and two hundred thousand Polish Jews survived the war in the Soviet rear areas: Central Asia and Siberia. Despite the importance of Soviet Jews in the war and the Shoah on the Eastern Front, research on this history was extremely difficult for many years, for political reasons. Only in recent decades have scholars began to shed light on what happened to Jews in the Soviet Union during the war.
At the conference, leading international scholars will address cutting-edge issues in contemporary studies of the Soviet Jewish experience during World War II. Participants from Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, United States, and Canada, among them distinguished scholars and raising stars in the field, will present historical, literary, sociological, and archival findings, and examine impediments to the study of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union.
Topics include “Pogroms in 1941,” “Soviet Writers Witnessing the Shoah,” “New Sources on Soviet Jewish War Time Experience,” “Soviet Yiddish Culture,” “Destruction of Jews in Ukraine and Byelorussia,” and “Jewish Participation in the Soviet Army”.
The conference will also welcome the photo exhibit from the Blavatnik Archive Foundation (New York): Lives of the Great Patriotic War: The Untold Stories of Soviet Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army during World War II. Through wartime memoirs, photographs, graphical illustrations, maps and oral testimonials, the bilingual (Russian-English) exhibit brings to life the story of the 500,000 Jewish soldiers who fought in the Red Army during the war. The remarkable tales of Jewish life and death, bravery and fear on the battlefront, Nazi mass murder, and eventual victory are told through the voices of wartime survivors.