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L'Shana Tova from JewishGen

Part III - Yizkor Book Project


Tonight we focus the spotlight on the Yizkor Book Translation Project Team and want you all to be aware that without the leadership of Martin Kessel, Project Manager and webmaster, Joyce Field Yizkor Book Translations Manager, and Susannah Juni (Advisor) none of what you see online could have been dreamed of, much less accomplished. 1999 saw the addition of our very own Sir Lancelot, Lance Ackerfield who has joined this team from Israel with whose assistance in tracking down the landsmanshaftn and receiving permissions to put these  translations online has been instrumental in the growth of this project.

Just a bit of history, reflected by the numbers...where we started and where we are today. In 1996 we began the slow and arduous task of setting up procedures and methodologies by which we could insure that the translations that would go online would be free of any copyright issues. In 1997 there were 9 translations online, 1998 saw the number rise to 60, and today (1999) the number has more than doubled. We stand today at 126 yizkor book translations online... available to anyone with internet access worldwide. We cannot begin to keep up with the number of new translations which are "works in process"....surely someone within the the project can give us a handle on what we might expect in the coming year!

Some of the very special accomplishments of this group stand out above all the rest...each with unique contribution to the mission of JewishGen as realized by those who have led, those who have contributed to make this an outstanding demonstration of what can be done with your financial support, your involvement and your energy.What better way than to point to specific examples Ivano-Frankivsk cemetery list:

http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/stanislawow-cemetery/. Peter Zavon did a magnificent job of formatting the handwritten notes and maps of Rabbi Kolesnik. Most interesting is the story of how we received the lists and diagrams of the maps of the cemetery in Ivano-Frankivsk and is just another of those serendipitous occurrences that pop up in genealogical research.

When Susannah Juni visited Rabbi Kolesnik in Ivano-Frankivsk in August/September 1997, he showed her the maps and his handwritten lists of the names and other details on the headstones in the Jewish cemetery. She arranged with the Rebbe to allow Alexander Dunai (hired by Susannah and Joyce Field) to make copies. for us.

Joyce brought a copy of the material to the Los Angeles summer seminar 1998 and showed it to a number of people in Gesher Galicia, one of whom,Peter Zavon, volunteered to put it in computer format. He created the lists and did the placement of the graves in each sector. We are indebted to him for his computer skills and tremendous investment of time and effort.

Nurenberg, Special exhibition:


(Actually the entire Nurenberg site is outstanding, but the Special Internet Presentation on Jewish Emigration 1933 to 1945, by Gerhard Jochem, Nuremberg City Archives stands out by itself. And the dedication of Gerhard Jochem to this project for JewishGen is worthy of special recognition. What is extremely important to us all is the fact that Gerhard shares in the ideals and the mission of JewishGen, which  should form the basis of an ongoing and long lasting relationship and partnership.

Gerhard, a gentile, writes:

"This presentation is an attempt to join again fragments of a precious artifact, the German-Jewish history in Nuremberg. Brutally the Nazis smashed it into a thousands pieces. They killed without any pity and even wanted their victims to be forgotten by erasing their traces. The survivors were scattered around the world. The German Nazis were defeated, but one of their aims, the extinction of the memory impends to be reached by the course of time. Two generations have grown up since the Holocaust took place. The children of the emigrants were born to be Israelis, Americans, Englishmen. Most of the Germans today know about what happened from books only. The threat is growing that with the witnesses the memory will die. On the other hand the present cannot be understood without the knowledge of our past. Our whole existence has historical causes and thus we ourselves are part of this continuity. Therefore the knowledge must be passed on.

During my work on the Memorial Book for Nuremberg's Victims of the Shoah I enjoyed the favor to get to know many former Jewish Nurembergers. These contacts made me aware of the fact how little is known about their lives by the local public despite the official efforts such as invitations to Nuremberg and other activities. In order to do something about this lack of information last year on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of "Reichskristallnacht", City Archives prepared the exhibition "Formerly of Nuremberg" about the expulsion and flight of the Jewish Nurembergers (see the brochure on JewishGen's web site). In the booklet in which the visitors could write down their opinions about the exhibition, someone made an entry which shows that the message was understood by those who came: "WE MUST NOT FORGET!"

The presentation on the web site of JewishGen aims primarily towards an American and international audience. At first sight it might seem strange that a German gentile does something like that in cooperation with an American Jewish organization. From my point of view this is no contradiction. History can not be divided nor can truth. Anybody who tries to evade or deny this is bound to fail.

Finally this project is my personal tribute to the individuals with whomI got acquainted. They lost members of their families. They were bereft of their chances both private and educational and had to start all over again in their new home countries. Despite many difficulties they built up a new existence and settled down. To me they are heroes against their will. My efforts do not suffice to give a complete picture of their biographies. The sketches are mere flashlights supposed to light up this dark chapter of history.

Nuremberg, March 1999
Gerhard Jochem "

Forced labor camp, unpublished manuscript on the forced labor camp KZ-Lager Poperwahlen (satellite camp to Dondangen), Latvia http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/popervale/

Joyce Field writes in her preface to this site:

"Poperwahlen is such an unusual entry on our Yizkor Book site that some readers may wonder how it fits into the more traditional offerings and our mission. Therefore, a few words of explanation may be in order.

The author, Lucas Melle Bruyn from the Netherlands, wrote to us and asked if we might be interested in putting this on the yizkor book web site. This work has not been published, but photocopies have been distributed to a few persons and organizations. The author's sole intent in writing to us was to get the story of Poperwahlen known.

After reading the file, I was totally intrigued by this previously unknown or unpublished part of World War II history. The story of the Latvian Jews and the intersecting story of the Dutch would add much to our understanding of the events of the 1940s, I thought, and tells us much about human behavior. Yizkor books also open windows to history and expand our understanding of human behavior. Of course, I could have presented hair-splitting arguments that this entry more appropriately belonged in some other web site, but I could not turn away from the impact of this story.

In the long run, I concluded, it does not matter where Poperwahlen appears as long as the story is known. I hope our readers concur after visiting the story of Poperwahlen.

And finally, the two sites created by Joel Alpert -- -- Dokshitsy and Jurbarkas (Yurburg):



In each case, a group of people translated substantial portions of the original text and Joel developed an attractive and impressive web site. What's most remarkable is the way he interspersed photos from the original books to give a real feeling of the originals.

Again, to the Yizkor Book Translation Project Team, to those who have contributed translations and material for this site we offer our deepest thanks. It too has become a project of international proportions.


If you have profited in any way from the work of these individuals, or if you merely wish to say thank you... to these volunteers and donors... to JewishGen, or to someone who has assisted your research in a special way, you can. Visit our Special Honors and Thanks site at


L'shana Tova

Susan E. King