“Memorial Books” as a Source for Research into the History of Jewish Communities in Europe
Jews in Europe aspired to memorialize their lives and communities in some way for future generations concerning the Holocaust. Already during the war, documentary evidence was collected and this endeavor was expanded after the war particularly when survivors came together, activated their collective memories, and produced memorial books. Accordingly, some 400 memorial books, mainly from Eastern European communities, were published between 1945 and 1972. The topics covered are extremely wide and include the whole range of activities and lifestyles. In some instances historians were involved, which raised the standard and varied greatly in style and content, but more often individuals contributed “from the heart.” Most of the books appear in English or Yiddish. Photos, graphs, and maps are freely used to illustrate the textual contributions. Some of the topics discussed include Jewish armed resistance, the fate of Jews in the camps and in Byelorussia, Ukraine, and the USSR, immigration to Palestine, and the dispersion of the communities after the Holocaust. The memorial books and related research studies are bibliographically listed at the end of the article.