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VII International Conference on "The History of the Holocaust in the North Caucasus and the fate of Jewish intellectuals during the Second World War."

17 August 2012
From 12 to 14  August, in Rostov the VII International Conference "Lessons of the Holocaust and Contemporary Russia" took place. It was organized by the Russian Holocaust Center,  Yad Vashem Institute for Holocaust Studies and the International School for Holocaust Studies, Institute of Russian History at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Southern Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Southern Federal University, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with the support of Russian Jewish Congress (REK) , Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR), \ Jewish community of Rostov, Genesis Foundation  and  the Claims Conference.
Prof. Altman noted in his speech that for the first time a discussion on Holocaust focused on regional aspects, and it would be held for the first time concomitantly with a film festival dedicated to the Holocaust. He also presented a new book by Elena Ivanova "Calling the fire upon myself," which has been printed with the support of the Russian Jewish Congress.
The President of the Russian Jewish Congress, Yuri Kanner underlined the importance of Holocaust research by non-Jews because they could be hardly accused of partiality.
The conference was opened with the report of the European director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Shimon Samuels "In the Shadow of the Wannsee Conference: The vanishing memory of the Holocaust."
The second day dealt with special aspects of the Holocaust in the North Caucasus region, whereas the last day was dedicated to the fate of Sabina Spielrein, a native of Rostov and  one of the founders of psychoanalysis,  who shared the fate of other Rostov Jews being murdered in Zmievskaya Balka - and the fate of the Jewish intelligentsia in the WW2 on both sides of the front line. Johan Beckman, head of the Finnish anti-Fascist Committee pointed out different  treatment of Jewish intellectuals depending on their utility for the state; Gennady Kostyrchenko  reported about the only female member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Lina Stern who was also the only one not to be executed by Stalin  because he wanted to make use of her scientific merits.
Tatyana Passman (Center of Civic Education, Pskov) stressed the contribution to military technology and the victory of the Red Army  by the Kikoin brothers.
The last session of the conference dealt with the problem of preserving the memory of the Holocaust, pointing out that in the postwar period authorities tried to hinder the Jewish community of Rostov-on-Don from keeping the Holocaust memory.
Director of Krasnodar Regional State Historical and Archaeological Museum, Andrey Eremenko stated  that in his museum  the Holocaust is not represented  in any special exposition or  included in the total collection of the Great Patriotic War.
Leonid Terushkin  (Holocaust Center) presented a large-scale program to archive collection of wartime documents (letters, diaries, memories) which could be used as sources for Holocaust research.
Anna Volkovich from Military Medical Museum in St. Petersburg informed about that the archive of the museum contains a large number of memories by Jewish military doctors who survived the Holocaust.
Concomitantly with the conference the X. a seminar for teachers of Jewish schools in the CIS was held, where participants discussed methodical and organizational problems of Holocaust education in Jewish schools and preservation of Holocaust memory.
The seminar was supported by the Claims Conference.
 During the conference within the framework of a film festival on the Holocaust were shown the films by Yury  Kalugin "Free of Jews" (Rostov, 1992), A. Maroutyan "The Sobibor Uprising" (Moscow, 2009), E. Jakovich "The world after Auschwitz" (Moscow, 2006), G. Ilugdin "Solo for single owls "(Moscow, 2012).
In an interview with the Jewish News Agency, Ilya Altman assessed the conference as successful in providing the appropriate atmosphere for a fruitful exchange of opinions. With regard to the attempt to introduce National Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust, he stressed “If  this day would hav  already existed there would not have been aroused such questions as now posed in Rostov newspapers: whether there had been a Holocaust or not.”
Semyon Charny
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