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Uncharted Waters Of The Holocaust In The Soviet Union

The American Forum of Russian Jewry, with the help of the Russian Mission to the UN, launched on March 9 at the UN headquarters in New York the "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust on the Territory of the USSR."

The weighty volume containing 1,142 pages and thousands of entries has been in the making for seven years. Ilya Altman, the encyclopedia's editor in chief, said that it has been printed only in Russian so far but there is an English edition in the pipeline and an electronic version in the making.

“There are thousands of books dedicated to the Holocaust," Altman said. "This volume does not repeat them, it makes its own significant contribution.”

Among the new entries, Altman said, is the list of all the places in the Soviet Union where 100 or more Jews lost their lives during World War II. Another novelty is the extensive use within the encyclopedia of personal testimonies. The accuracy of such source material is not always 100 percent established, Altman said, but nevertheless they felt compelled to include them.

Another segment in the encyclopedia, which has received scant attention in the past, is Jews in the Red Army. There were thousands of Jews, Altman said, who served as soldiers, officers, translators, engineers, and physicians.

The encyclopedia also details the suppression of the Holocaust by the Soviet authorities after the end of World War II and the difficulties Jews had in the Soviet Union erecting monuments to the victims.

Holocaust history in the Soviet Union has received less attention than in other European countries, even though half of the 6 million Jews killed lost their lives on the territory of the Soviet Union.

More than 100 authors from 12 former Soviet republics took part in the project, the majority of them from Russia and the Baltic states.

-- Nikola Krastev

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