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Translation of Yizkor book of Nesvizh

(Nyasvizh, Belarus)


Project Leader: Steve Stein
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project is being initiated in order to fund the translation of the 531-page Yizkor Book. The book was edited by David Shtokfish of the Nieswiez Societies in Israel and the Diaspora, and was published in 1976. The goal is to eventually provide a complete translation of this book to JewishGen. A translation of some portions of the book (table of contents, a martyr list and other individual sections) already exists on JewishGen. Much of the book is in Hebrew, with some sections in Yiddish.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots to Nyasvizh and its region constitute the primary audience for the material. There are nearly 200 researchers currently registered in the JewishGen Family Finder seeking families in Nyasvizh. However, the material has the potential to be of broader appeal to scholars interested in the region or specializing in Jewish history and society.  In particular, as has been the case with other such books, Belarussian gentiles with an interest in the Jewish community of Nyasvizh or the general history of Nyasvizh will likely take interest in the book.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. They also contain first-hand accounts of the events of the Holocaust related to the specific town. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps, murdered in mass executions, or died in the forests are not recorded elsewhere.

Nyasvizh is located in Belarus about 125 km southwest of the capital, Minsk. Originally owned by the princely Radzivill family, the town was part of the Russian Empire after the partition of Poland and for the entirety of the 19th century. After World War I, it became part of Poland again, and between the invasion of Poland by Germany in September 1939 and the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, it was under the rule of the USSR. Of the estimated nearly 6000 Jews living there, about 5000 were rounded up and massacred on 30 October 1941. The remaining Jews were interned in the ghetto there, and all but a few dozen of those who remained perished in the armed uprising of 7 July 1942 when the Germans liquidated the ghetto. The survivors fled into the forests and many joined the partisans. Only about fourteen survived the war.

Survivors, descendants of survivors, as well as descendants of those who emigrated from Nyasvizh prior to the war are known to exist in Israel, the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, and other countries. This Yizkor Book is a major source for documented history of the town and its Jewish population, and will result in the creation of a primary English language source of information for anyone doing research on the town and its Jewish community. There is already an extensive KehilaLinks site for Nyasvizh which will be complemented by the availability of information from the Yizkor Book.

Project Description

As funds become available, Hebrew and Yiddish pages will be translated into English by a professional translator.

The project coordinator will select the order in which the chapters will be translated and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Those donating funds to the project will be given the opportunity to select the chapters of interest for priority in translation. Photos from the Yizkor Book will be paired with captions and translations wherever possible.

Estimated Cost

A full translation is currently estimated to cost $15,000. This estimate will be revised and refined as the project progresses.


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