It can be said that a man dies three times:
the first time, when he actually dies,
the second time, when he is buried,
the third time, when his name is no longer remembered.
Almost half of the six million who were murdered in the Holocaust were the Jews of the Soviet Union. When the terrible war was over, the iron curtain fell on their stories. Here their stories are told for the first time . This is a late tribute to the victims and to Jewish and human history where their story was not recorded.
The annihilation of the Soviet Jews began almost immediately with the German invasion on June 22 1941. Mass shooting executions took place in all of the areas of occupation. These were spontaneous, chaotic and local phenomena. There were no records of the murdered. In retrospect, this was the first stage of the mass extermination of the Jews of Europe by the Nazi regime - before the Wannsee Conference, the concentration camps and the Final Solution.
For ideological and political reasons the Soviet Union did not recognize the unique tragedy of the Shoah. They did not allow documentation, research and commemoration. It is as if the Holocaust of the Soviet Jews did not occur, and was erased from collective memory. It was only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union that the memories of almost two million of its Jews, who were murdered between 1941-1945, could be restored.
For seven years, from 2006 to 2012, I was involved with a special project at Yad Vashem – collecting the names of Jews who were murdered in the former Soviet Union. I toured tens of locations in "the land of the Shoah" and met hundreds of witnesses. Slowly a frightening picture revealed itself to me, a story of an entire Jewish-Russian civilization that has disappeared. A black hole of systematic genocide. Memory without any traces.
The materials I collected along this journey and the emotions they evoked in me have inspired my commitment (some would even say bordering on obsession), to a create a series of documentary films, that portray panoramic view of the lives and deaths of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. In Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and in over 20 other areas of Russia. I feel morally obligated to complete the missing half of the picture.
About the Project:
The Holocaust in the Soviet Union is a public non-profit project. Any support, donations and income fund the production of the films.
Time is of the essence. If we do not hurry, we will miss our last chance to document and record the remains of the direct memory of the generation that can still recall. We simply must include the forgotten collective memory of almost half of the victims of the Shoah on the shelves of history!
Even during the preparations for the series, there was a feeling of the gravitas of the project. A sense of obligation to restore the forgotten memory. Events taking place in the post-Soviet era contribute to this sense of urgency, in addition to the advanced age of the witnesses. Our critical task is the ability to document those who are still alive and possess direct memories of the events and people, which have disappeared.
The first objective for the films of the project – documenting the events and filming the witnesses in the location of the event and at the same time of year that the event took place.
I am turning to the many people who are willing to bring back the memory of the Shoah that was almost erased from collective consciousness – please help us to ensure the last chance to remember almost half of the victims of the Holocaust.
We are operating under urgent circumstances, as even the youngest of the witnesses is at least 85 years old. The map of our filming encompasses tens of sites in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Southern Russia and the Northern Caucus.
The entire project is comprised of nine films that are supported by the Claims Conference, The Israel Lottery Authority, the Genesis Foundation and the Joint FSU.
Some of the films also received support from Israel Channel 8, the Rabinovitch Film Fund, the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets, and private donors.
For more information about the project please go to http://www.holocaustinussr.com/en/ where the two first completed films are already available for viewing:
Guardians of Remembrance:
Holocaust. The Eastern Front:
Beyond the Nistru, the third film in the series, premiered at the 2016 Haifa International Film Festival in front of a full hall. You can watch parts one and two of this film using the following links:
Part one Hebrew+ English
Part two - Hebrew+ English
The next two films planned have already been guaranteed money – and partly for the next 4. But we are still missing close to 400,000 NIS for the films about the Shoah in Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania – and the final film of the entire series, the reasons behind Stalin's decision to ignore, and even hide the topic of the Holocaust in the territories of the Soviet Union.
We are turning to you with a request to join the group of friends of the project and make a donation of 1000 NIS per family. We need this in order to be able to complete all nine films. Please turn to five or six of your friends in the hope that at least some of them might want to assist in the completion of this important project. Of course, donors' names will be featured on the end credits of the film.
Details of the bank account for monetary transfers:
Bank: Israel Bank Discount Code 11. Branch: Number 145 Address: 19 Weizmann st., Givataim Israel
IBAN number IL650111450000120639086. Swift code IDBLILITXXX. Account Number: # 120639086 Beneficiaries: Boris Maftsir, Zvi Shefy
To make you donation tax-deductible in USA please use details of the bank or Paypal`s button bellow. (You donate to "Children Making Tomorrow inc.", that will transfer your donation to us). Please add instructions, that you dedicate your donation to "Holocaust in USSR" project.
Details of the bank account for monetary transfers:
Children Making Tomorrow, Inc.
Routing number 072000096
Account number 1851907095
All donations will be gratefully accepted