Vera Laska on Researching the Holocaust

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Yad Vashem Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial Authority in Jerusalem is a depository of documents and memoirs on the Holocaust, mostly in German, Hebrew and Yiddish. It also issues the Yad Vashem Studies on the European Jewish Catastrophe and Resistance.


The Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine in Paris and the Wiener Library in London are major sources of information. The Wiener Library’s catalogue series published a bibliography, Persecution and Resistance Under the Nazis (London: Valentine, Mitchell, 1960).


In the United States the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (1048 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10028) houses several collections of ghetto documents and related primary source materials. It publishes the YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science. Since 1960, Yad Vashem and the YIVO Institute have been engaged in preparing a multivolume bibliographical series on the Holocaust; one of the volumes, Jacob Robinson, ed., The Holocaust and After: Sources and Literature in English (Jerusalem: Israel University Press, 1973) is most helpful.


The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (823 United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017) supplies teaching materials at reasonable prices, for instance The Record – The Holocaust in History, 1933-1945, published in cooperation with the National Council for Social Studies in 1978.


The Library of Congress and the National Archives are rich sources for researchers, containing among others the transcripts of war crime trials. This in itself is an immense documentation; for instance, the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial of twenty-three defendants alone takes up 11,538 pages in nineteen volumes. Indexes can be consulted about various concentration camps.




At the community level, consult area Jewish societies. Often these groups provide resource speakers or materials for classroom use. Survivors of the concentration camps will be available to speak to classes in some instances. Veterans’ organizations will often provide speakers who were liberators of the concentration camps. State offices of Jewish societies may also be contacted by consulting the telephone directory, directory assistance, or the local library reference section.


At the national level, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL), 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, (212) 490-2525, works for civil rights and fair treatment for all citizens. The ADL maintains a speakers’ bureau and 30 regional offices, and it publishes materials for teachers and students on the Holocaust. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2000 L Street, NW, Suite 588, Washington, DC 20036-4907, (202) 653-9220, commissioned by Congress in 1980, offers a variety of educational programs on the subject and will expand those offerings with the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993. Regular programs include workshops and presentations, a poster series, an essay contest, and curriculum projects.


The Anne Frank Institute of Philadelphia, Lafayette Building 608, P.O. Box 40119, Philadelphia PA 19103, (215) 238-5379, is devoted to the study of genocide and the Holocaust, maintains a speakers’ bureau, and conducts programs for teachers and other community groups. The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, 122 W. 30th St., Suite 205, New York, NY 10001, (212) 239-4230, seeks to commemorate the Holocaust and combat anti-Semitism through programs, articles, assemblies, teacher education, and a speakers’ bureau.


On the international level, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, located at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, is dedicated to researching the stories of the Holocaust and commemorating its victims.


The International Alert Against Genocide, 1015 Gayley Avenue, Box 259, Los Angeles, CA 90024, seeks to increase awareness and prevention through research, teaching, and focusing on violations of human rights. Also, the United Nations maintains an active interest in human rights in the world.


Several excellent books on the topic of the Holocaust are available for teachers and their most able students. One such source is THE HOLOCAUST: THE FATE OF EUROPEAN JEWRY by Leni Yahil. Reviewers have hailed this book as the finest and most authoritative study of the Holocaust ever published. This book, widely available in bookstores and libraries, was published in 1990 by the Oxford University Press.