Conducting Research on Jewish Fighters, WWII
With a Focus on Ukraine, Belarus and Russia
by J.D. Arden, Reference Services Assistant
with assistance from Aurora Zinder, Volunteer, and David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History
Above image: Kniga Pamiati Voinov-Evreev and Biographical Dictionary of Jewish Resistance
In the Lillian Goldman Reading Room here at the Center for Jewish History, you can explore Hebrew-language compilations of narratives and historical documents that testify to Jewish armed resistance in Europe during World War II. For example, the YIVO Institute holds three volumes published in Israel: Book of the Jewish Partisans / Sefer ha-partizanim ha-Yehudim, Memories of Partisans and Jewish Partisan Units in Belarus.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, more information about Soviet soldiers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) has become available. A 10-volume alphabetical Memory Book index in Russian of the Jewish soldiers who perished on the Soviet front is available in the Reference Section of the Lilian Goldman Reading Room under the title Kniga pamiati voinov-evreev, pavshikh v boiakh s natsizmom, 1941-1945 / Memory Book of Jewish Soldiers, who perished in combat with Nazism. This index is organized alphabetically by last names, and in most cases includes the birth date, death date and hometown of the soldier, and information on whether he died in action or subsequently from battle-related injuries. Some black-and-white photographs are available in a separate chapter.
For research on soldiers (and some civilians) who were from the republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and were killed during the War, YIVO has a large series of “Memory Books” in Ukrainian, Belorussian and Russian languages. These extensive volumes are indexed by individual towns and regions of each republic. The soldiers of each town are listed alphabetically with brief biographical information (including Jewish or other ethnicity, in some volumes). These and similar books (some that are not related to World War II) are searchable in our catalog under the keyword “pamiati."
If you are interested in researching topics related to the geography and history of the War, there are many resources available across the collections of all of the partner organizations of the Center for Jewish History. For example, in the collections of the the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute and the YIVO Institute: Jewish documentary sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus : a preliminary list edited by Dorit Sallis and Marek Web (Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1996. Online resources include “Letters from the Front: Jewish War Heroes” from the Center for Jewish History and Blavatnik Family Foundation, Memorial Database of Jewish Soldiers, Partisans and Workers Killed in Action during the Nazi Era by the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York; Pobediteli – Soldiers of the Great War, in English and Russian; and a website in Russian with more listings of Jewish Soviet soldiers who perished in detention brigades (shtrafnoi battalion). On the topic of forced labor, search our archival collection here.