Even after decades of in-depth Holocaust research, excruciating details are only now emerging about more than 1,100 German-run ghettos in Eastern Europe where the Nazis murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Martin Dean, a Holocaust scholar and editor of the recently published “Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945, Volume II,” said that there were about 200 more ghettos than previously believed.
It “gives us information about ghettos that would slip into historical oblivion and be forgotten forever if we didn’t have this volume,” said Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer. “Who knew there were more than 1,000 ghettos?”
“The people are dead, but at least we have the memory of the place where they lived and some knowledge of who killed them,” said Langer, a professor of English at Boston’s Simmons College.
Researchers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington meticulously collected details for the encyclopedia’s more than 2,000 pages from the communities where Germans herded Jews and killed them if they tried to escape.
Martin Dean, along with his team of researchers, uncovered information that, he says, “shows that the Nazis made a concerted effort to find every last Jew in every last place” and eliminate each one.
One tiny town in Ukraine, Mizocz, reflects the horrors repeated over and over across Eastern Europe, noted the AP. Its entry was written by a survivor who now who is one of fewer than 10 percent of Eastern European who were forced into ghettoes who managed to survive the war.
Helen Segall, 81, was 11-years-old when the SS torched her town of about 2,000 residents, with hundreds of hidden Jews burned to death before they could escape.
“People had to undress and walk in small groups into the trench and lie facedown, where they were shot by an SS man helped by a Ukrainian Schutzmann,” she wrote,
In two days the 300-year-old town “ceased to exist,” Segall recounted.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem published an encyclopedia in 2009 entitled the “Encyclopedia of the Ghettos,” which tells the story of each ghetto.
The two-part volume compiled by the U.S. Holocaust museum and published in early May by Indiana University Press includes more listings, with extensive scholarly footnotes and a bibliography.
The rest of the seven-volume U.S. project is expected to be completed in the next decade, tracking more than 20,000 sites of wartime persecution of both Jews and non-Jews, according to the AP.