Adress: 115035, Russia, Moscow,
Sadovnicheskaya St. 52/45
The Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center and the Holocaust Foundation
(map). Phone/fax: (499) 995-21-82, (495) 953-33-62 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
On April 24, during a Memory Marathon held at the Holocaust Museum in the Memorial Synagogue on Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow, nearly 300 students, schoolchildren and teachers from 13 educational institutions of Moscow met with Victor Gekht, a former ghetto prisoner, Semyon Dodik, a partisan, and Nikolai Dorozhinsky, a Righteous Among Nations. The Marathon was organized by the Russian Holocaust Center and Foundation with support from the Russian Jewish Congress. Such events have been held regularly since 2005.
Ilya Altman, co-chair of the Holocaust Center, led a tour of the Museum. Alla Gerber, president of the Holocaust Foundation and member of the RF Public Chamber, related the story of the Holocaust.
At the exit from the Museum, each member of the memorial ceremony was offered to complete a questionnaire with questions about his or her awareness about the Holocaust. The questionnaires also include questions about whether nationalism, xenophobia and extremism in Russia’s society should be counteracted. The overwhelming majority of the respondents expressed their admiration of the stories of Holocaust survivals and their impressions of the film and the performance of the chorus. Many students gave the opinion that the government must take all possible measures to prevent any neo-Nazi or xenophobia manifestations in Russia.
Photo: From left to right: Alla Gerber, Semyon Dodik, Nikolai Dorozhinsky and Victor Gekht
On January 27, a Commemorative Evening - Requiem devoted to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day that marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz (Oswiecim) Death Camp by Soviet troops was held at the Grand Hall of the Central House of Writers in Moscow. This event has been organized here each year since 1995 following the initiative of the Holocaust Center and Foundation and with the participation of Moscow City Government, Israeli Embassy in Russia, the World Congress of Russian Speaking Jewry and leading Jewish organizations of Russia.
This evening, which took place in one of the most prestigious auditoriums of Russia’s capital, was attended by prominent public figures, ministers, diplomats, the leadership of the Russian Federation Archive Service and former ghetto prisoners and war veterans. The diplomatic corps was represented by Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassadors of Austria, Germany, Israel, Poland and Turkey; Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands, Austria and Latvia; and diplomats from Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and the USA. At least one-third of the participants in this event was made up of over 150 schoolchildren and students from 30 Moscow schools and universities and their teachers, who sat near quite a colorful group of young people dressed in the uniforms of the Israel Defense Force. An exhibition devoted to Anne Frank, courtesy of the Dutch Anne Frank Foundation (Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was one of the 258 Jews freed in Auschwitz), was on display in the foyer.
The evening began with a Kadish prayer performed by the Moscow Male Jewish Choir Hasidic Cappella directed by AlexanderTsaluk. This was followed by the appeal to the audience from Alla Gerber, president of the Holocaust Foundation and member of the RF Public Chamber and host of the Commemorative Evening, to hold a one-minute silence to in memory of the victims of the Holocaust and warriors-liberators.
The RF Minister of Culture, Alexander Avdeyev, noted that Nazi camps became symbols of “the gravest crimes against humanity committed by the fascists and, at the same time, of the largeness and the will to live of the prisoners”.
According to Mikhail Shvydkoi, Russian President's Special Representative for International Cultural Cooperation, Auschwitz may be compared with a crucifixion that takes place in the people’s souls and hearts.
Sergei Melnikov, deputy head of the Humanitarian Policy and Public Relations Department at the RF President Internal Policy Directorate, read the message of the head of the Presidential Executive Office, Sergei Naryshkin, addressed to the audience.
Israeli Ambassador to Russia Anna Azari spoke about the Germans suffering from the post-traumatic effect of genocide. She also noted: “Although such a trauma does not even entail and post-trauma”.
The Polish and German ambassadors also spoke at the Commemorative Evening.
The only living Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, Anatoly Vanukevich, who lives in Moscow, shared his memories about the death camp and was greeted by a standing ovation. The daughters of Meier Lay, the former Chief Israeli Rabbi and the present chairman of the Yad Vashem Museum’s Council, Julia and Elena, related the story of their father being saved in Bukhenvald by Fyodor Mikhailichenko, a Soviet prisoner from Rostov-on-Don. They were also greeted by an ovation.
The evening was concluded by the prize-awarding ceremony of the Annual International Contest “Lessons of the Holocaust – Path to Tolerance” of works created by teachers, students and schoolchildren. Schoolchildren who became the winners of this contest were invited to the annual Tenth Conference in Brest and the teachers who won it attended a seminar in Yad Vashem. Ilya Altman and Alexander Gorelik, director of the UN Information Center in Russia, informed the students, winners in the contest, that they were invited to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. E.Mushtavinskaya, graduate of Hertsen RGPU, spoke on behalf of the contest participants. This contest and the prize-awarding ceremony became possible thanks to government funding provided in the form of a grant in accordance with RF President Order #160-rp of March 16, 2009.
Unique documentaries about the liberation of ghettos and Nazi camps in the former Soviet Union and Europe in 1941-1945 by Soviet troops were shown at this commemorative event. At the end of the evening, the Hasidic Cappella sang the famous Victory Day song.
The preparations for the memorial evening and the event itself were covered by over 20 mass media outlets from Russia and other countries, including leading news agencies such as ITAR-TASS, Interfax and RIA-Novosti (including the TV bridge Russia-Israel aired on January 28), Reuters and France Press; TV channels TVC, Culture, Fifth (St.Petersburg), RUSSIA Today (English, Spanish and Arabian Departments) and Zvezda; German Television; the Russian Services of BBC, Radio Svoboda and Radio France; the radio stations Echo of Moscow and the Russian News Service; the newspapers Izvestiya, Moskovsky Komsomolets and Tribuna; the magazines Kommersant-Vlast, Russian Newsweek and many others.
MOSCOW, Jan 25, 2010 (AFP) - Until the last, Ivan Martynushkin knew nothing of the horrors his unit would uncover when the Soviet army fought its way to the barbed wire fences of Auschwitz -- Nazi Germany's most infamous death camp. But 65 years on, he is still haunted by what he saw -- memories that have only grown more terrible as he learned the camp's story.
Some 1.1 million people died at the camp between 1940 and 1945 -- one million of them Jews from across Nazi-occupied Europe. Some died from overwork and starvation, but most were murdered in the gas chambers.
"I will remember those things until the end of my days," the 86-year-old veteran, who headed a gunner unit of the Red Army's 322nd rifle division that liberated Auschwitz, said in interview with AFP at his home in Moscow.
The sprightly, grey-haired veteran sat in his neat apartment surrounded by books and photographs, including one of him with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A jacket pinned with war medals hung on the wall.
Martynushkin said it was only when he saw the camp's barbed wires and his commander ordered the troops to hold their fire that he "guessed that this was some special military zone, that this was something else."
For many veterans, the lack of shooting on that day -- January 27, 1945 -- in the midst of the fiercest weeks of fighting, remains one of their most powerful impressions, Holocaust researcher Ilya Altman told AFP.
Martynushkin recalled the ghostly quiet and acrid "ash- and smoke-filled" air at Auschwitz. He had seen other Nazi prisoner camps but as his unit moved along the perimeter of Auschwitz he was staggered. "It was huge. It went on and on for kilometres," he remembered. "We started to see groups of people when we reached the fence. They came up to us dressed in prison stripes, some had other clothes on top," he said. "After being in such a hell, constantly threatened by death, they were worn, depleted people. The only thing to them were those eyes that reflected a kind of joy -- of being freed, the joy that hell had ended and they remained alive."
As the Soviet troops closed in, some 60,000 prisoners had been driven back behind the Nazi lines in a forced "death march" that would be remembered by the survivors as worse than all that had come earlier at the camp.
The few thousands left behind were thought too weak to march but by some luck escaped being shot in the chaos of the rushed exodus.
Martynushkin turned 21 just days before arriving at Auschwitz, but by that time he had already spent three years at the front.
Desensitized by the scale of suffering he witnessed over the war, he did not realize the full horror of the death camp, he said. It was only later, when the Nuremberg trials began, that he came to understand what had previously seemed unimaginable.
"Back then when we saw the ovens, our first thought was: 'Oh well, so they are crematoriums. So people died and they didn't bury them all,'" he said.
"We didn't know then that those ovens were specially built for the killing of people, to burn those who had been gassed, that kind of systematic killing."
Auschwitz operated from 1940, a year after the German invasion of Poland. Its victims also included 85,000 non-Jewish Poles, 20,000 gypsies, 12,000 non-Jewish other European nationals and around 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war.
"It was unlike any other war. It was a war over the existence of entire peoples," Martynushkin said. "We were able to see this plan at Auschwitz. Everyone was there, representatives of all the European nations."
He was planning to travel to Poland with a handful of other surviving Soviet soldiers for the 65th anniversary of the day they liberated Auschwitz.
October 1, 2009. KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) - A new encyclopedia documents the history of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union.
The book is a project of the Russian Holocaust Center and Rosspen publishing house.
Ilya Altman, leader of the project and co-chair of the Russian Holocaust Center of Moscow; Alla Gerber, president of the Moscow Holocaust Foundation; and Anatoly Podolsky, director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, presented the encyclopedia Thursday at a seminar on the Holocaust.
Leaders of the project, scientists, formers prisoners of ghettos and concentration camps, and educators particpated in the seminar at the Institution of Political, Ethnic and National Studies of the Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences in Kiev.
The “Encyclopedia of Holocaust on the territory of the USSR” features newly discovered and mostly unpublished photos, facts and recollections. The book also contains documents that shed new light on Jewish life during the occupation and Holocaust.
The encyclopedia includes articles by nearly 100 authors from 12 countries, including biographical articles and those devoted to the key issues of the Holocaust.
The authors used materials from more than 70 archives and museums in the Russian Federation and former Soviet countries, as well as Israel, Germany, Poland, the United States and France.
Some of the articles were written by former concentration camp and ghetto prisoners, as well as survivors.
One thousand copies of the book, in Russian, were printed. The text
The international Media-Club “Impressum” organized a meeting in Tallinn on July 27th. The topic of the meeting was the remembrance of Simon Wiesenthal and his work of legal persecuting Nazi-Perpetrators.
The meeting included the presentation of the Russian version of the book “Anti-Semitism: The Generic of Hatred. Essays in remembrance of Simon Wiesenthal”, which was published by the initiative of the UNESCO. The Co-Chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center, Dr. Ilya Altman contributed Simon Wiesenthal’s historical fairness during his speech in Tallinn.
Due to that, Ilya Altman talked about the lessons of the Holocaust. He underlined the danger of the repeating of history and the importance of fighting Xenophobia and Racism.
Next to Dr. Ilya Altman, Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel took part in the meeting. He talked about the different working fields of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and about the succeeds of the last years of fighting racist activities in different countries. Zuroff criticized the position of the Baltic stated, which have not condemned even one single person who had committed crimes during the time of WWII, during the time of there independence. He even criticized the equalizing of the national socialist and the communist regimes, what some politicians of the Baltic States are doing. “This puts the attention away from the collaboration with the Nazis of the people during the time of the war”, did he say.
The meeting got a lot of attention from the mass media, a lot of reporters listened to the conference in the Tallinn “Olümpia” Hotel.
UNESCO, together with the French educational foundation Verbe et Lumière – Vigilance (VetL), co-sponsored the Fifth Annual Russian University Holocaust Essay Competition at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
The winners are, each year, invited to Paris to present their papers. This year, over 700 submissions arrived from all over the former Soviet Union, to be judged by the competition coordinator, the Russian Holocaust Centre (RHC) in Moscow. The session was co-chaired by RHC Director, Dr Ilya Altman, and, on behalf of VetL, Dr Shimon Samuels. UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, spoke of the 2007 Resolution 61 as the basis for the Organization's global promotion of Holocaust education. He committed UNESCO's continued support under future administrations. War criminal investigator, Beate Klarsfeld, responded with a description of her German childhood visit to 1943 Nazi-occupied Poland, as formative in her career, adding the importance of transmission of such memories with the endorsement of UNESCO. The student laureates presented abstracts of their work:
-Yekaterina Zamarina, a blind student at Sillamae University, Estonia, Institute of Economics and Management, on "The History of the Holocaust in Estonia"; - Anna Mitrushina, of St. Petersburg Herzen University, Faculty of Social Sciences, on "Teaching the Holocaust in Russian High Schools" - Alena Samsonova, of Gubkin University of Oil and Gas, Faculty of Engineering Mechanics, on "Holocaust Denial in Russia" - Bella Khayzens, of Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic University, on "Holocaut Semiotics in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" Photo 1 – Pictured at the ceremony are, from left to right: Front row: Dr Graciela Vaserman Samuels (UNESCO), Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, Beate Klarsfeld. Back row: The four Russian laureates, Dr Ilya Altman, Alexander Kaplan, Dr Shimon Samuels, UNESCO Education Director Dr Quian Tang, Simon Kaplan, Anna Kaplan. Present but not visible were Tania Klarsfeld and Dr Eliane Corrin; Photo 2 – The Russian edition of the book, "Antisemitism – The Generic Hatred. Essays in Memory of Simon Wiesenthal", was given to US Delegation member, Esther Coopersmith, for First Lady Michele Obama. Also in the picture: US Charge at UNESCO Stephen Engelken, Dr Graciela Vaserman Samuels, Dr Shimon Samuels
June 26th – 30th. International Conference about proprietary aspects of the Holocaust in Prague
The international conference took place in Prague and there took part more than 550 people from 49 countries. There participants were diplomats, directors of different Holocaust-museums in Europe and the USA and different historians.
The russian delegation amongst others consisted of the president of the Russian Holocaust-Fond, Alla Gerber, the co-chairman of the russian Holocaustcenter, Dr. Ilya Altman and the president of the international cultural cooparation, Michail Shvydkoj.
Michail Shvydkov talked in his lecture about the importance of the Sovjet Union during the second Worldwar and that this role is often forgotten in these days.
Dr. Ilya Altman said, that this is a reason, why the Holocaustcenter is working on an Encyclopedia about the Holocaust on the territory of the USSR.
In Brest (Belarus), at the 9th International Annual Conference for Schoolchildren “Holocaust: Remembrance and Warning”, 16 school students from large and small cities of Russia (Moscow, Moscow Region, Samara and Tobolsk), Ukraine (Kremenets and Donetsk), Moldova (Beltsy) and Belarus (Mir, Smilovichi, Pinsk, Kalinkovichi and Brest) made presentations and visited the Brest Fortress at dawn on June 22, the State Archive of Brest Region and Holocaust sites.
The organizer and head of all nine conferences, Ilya Altman, co-chair of the Holocaust Center, noted the much higher technical level of the presentations and films. Participants from Moldova were attending the conference for the first time. Prominent scholars were present at the opening of the conference: the head of the Ukrainian Center for the Study of the History of the Holocaust, Anatoly Podolsky, and director of the Jewish Resistance Museum in Novogrudka, Tamara Vershitskaya. As always, the meeting with the only surviving former minor prisoner of the Brest Ghetto, writer Roman Levin, made a very strong impression on the participants in the conference.
Alexander Sidorkin, a 10th grade student from Tobolsk (Russia), who devoted his presentation to the antifascist struggle in Germany and whose trip to Brest took three days, admitted that before the conference he “only had a general idea about the Holocaust”.
- I became acquainted with Roman Levin, the “boy from the ghetto”. The atmosphere at the conference was very well-wishing. I was deeply moved by the ceremony at the Brest Fortress on June 22. I learned a lot at the conference. That is why we have to speak at conferences and compete for a chance to come to Brest!”
Dr.Altman pointed out that the next 10th Conference will take place during the year of the 65th Victory Anniversary and that the number of participating countries will hopefully be expanded.
June, 15th. The exhibition, coming from the Anne Frank house, Amsterdam, has had great success in different parts of Ukraine, as well as in some schools in Moscow. Now it is open for everyone in the Holocaustcenter until the middle of July.
On the opening, there were different guests, like members of the Dutch and German Embassy, as well as from the Embassy of Israel. Due to that, Dr Ilya Altman and the organizer of this exhibition, Ksenia Shiryaeva had a speech.
After the opening-ceremony, a student from one of the Moscow-schools guided the visitors through the exhibition. This is the plan of this pilot project. Students get qualified as guides to show their classmates the exhibition afterwards.