09 November 2018



World Digital Library: "In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Bukovina is Number 5 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Bukovina, a region in southeastern Europe that is today partly in Ukraine and partly in Romania, was, at the time this study was written, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was annexed by Austria in 1776, following the Russo-Turkish War (1768−74) and the first partition of Poland (1772). The study notes that the Bukovina "lies on the great highway of migration from east to west, and is consequently inhabited by a strange mixture of races, even to the present day." The main groups living in the territory (formally an autonomous duchy administered as an Austrian crown land) included Romanians, Ukrainians (Ruthenians), Germans, Jews, Poles, and Magyars. The major industries were agriculture and forestry. Austria ceded the province to Romania after World War I. In 1940 the Soviet government pressured Romania to cede the northern portion of Bukovina (along with Bessarabia) to the Soviet Union, which controlled the territory until the breakup of the Soviet state in 1991."

Courtesy: Library of Congress

28 October 2018

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Word and Picture


The World of Habsburgs: "Crown Prince Rudolf initiated a compendium on the Habsburg empire, intended as a peace project to unite different peoples and thus to save the crumbling Monarchy. Excluded from the political life of the court by the conservative figures surrounding his father due to his liberal and progressive ideas, Rudolf made his own mark when, in 1884, he initiated the monumental encyclopaedia Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild (‚The Austro-Hungarian Empire in Words and Pictures‘), named after him as the ‘Kronprinzenwerk’. The work was a kind of compendium intended to record the entire empire with all of its peoples. The Kronprinzenwerk was certainly impressive in statistical terms; over a period of 17 years, from 1885 to 1902, there appeared 397 individually-published instalments which were sent every two weeks to subscribers. In total, the project comprised 24 volumes containing 587 articles by over 400 authors (largely locally-based folklorists who themselves belonged to the ethnic group being investigated) and around 4,500 illustrations by 264 artists from across the Crown Lands. It was thus the biggest work published by the Imperial-Royal Court and State Publishing House. In keeping with the dualistic structure of the Monarchy, a German and a Hungarian edition were prepared by two separate teams of editors – in parallel, but differing somewhat in terms of content, the Hungarian version being primarily directed at an urban middle-class target audience. Great hopes were placed in the work, at least at the beginning, both by the publishers and the press, which gave it considerable public attention in the 1880s. Against the background of the virulent conflicts between the Monarchy’s nationalities which took place during this decade, the work was intended to be a peace project linking people together and directed against all separatist forces; through the communication of knowledge, it aimed to bring reconciliation and strengthen solidarity within the Danube Monarchy. Following Rudolf’s death, and with the shifting of the topics dealt with in the volumes from the centre to the periphery of the empire, public interest increasingly evaporated. Today, a complete edition of the Kronprinzenwerk is a much-sought-after collector’s item. (Julia Teresa Friehs)"

Courtesy: https://archive.org/

08 July 2018

Report of the "Soviet Extraordinary Commission" for Czernowitz

Chernovtsy regional commission for assistance
in damage accounting and investigation of atrocities
committed by fascist occupiers on
the territory of the Chernovtsy region

City of Chernovtsy

of the city commission on damage accounting,
summarized information and conclusions
by senior investigator of the Chernovtsy regional
Prosecutor's office on identifying the atrocities
committed by German-fascist
occupiers and their collaborators against
citizens of the USSR. Lists of Soviet
citizens killed and tortured,
exiled, repatriated to Chernovtsy,

and those guilty of the atrocities.
Started: July 27, 1945
Completed: July 31, 1945

238 leafs [written in pencil]

Fonds Number R-653
List Number 1
Item Number 103

[Translation by courtesy of Prof. Iosif Vaisman] 

USHMM: "Reel 21: [...] Fond 653. Opis 1 #103. Soviet Extraordinary Commission. July 1945. Trajan Popovici, Mayor of Cernauti personally commands executions. Killings, torture, etc. List of citizens repatriated to Cernauti. List of those killed by occupiers with indication of ethnicity (almost exclusively Jews.) Letters from Jews from Transnistria to their relatives in Bukovina asking for help. (Russian). List of Soviet citizens deported in Fascist Slavery in Germany with indication of ethnicity (July 5 1945). 50.000 deported. Names of 1,053 identified, the names of the rest impossible to identify. Information of damages inflicted by the occupiers. Declarations of Jews concerning goods that were confiscated from them."

JewishGen: "In 1942 [and the succeeding years], after the Soviet Army recaptured land occupied by Germany [and/or its allies], the USSR established an "Extraordinary State Commission" to document exactly what had happened in every Soviet locality occupied by the Nazis [and/or its alles]. Under the direction of special NKVD (predecessor of the KGB) units, teams were to record the names of those killed.  Property damage was also recorded. In most places NKVD personnel were assisted by local residents. These reports, [partly] handwritten in Russian, are organized geographically by republic, oblast (state), raion (county) and town. They were stored in the Central State Archive of the October Revolution in Moscow, with relevant copies in republic area archives. These reports were microfilmed in Moscow by Yad Vashem in 1990. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington has copies of these microfilms: 27 reels, [RG-22.002M]."

27 June 2018

Vestnik • Herald of the Eliezer Steinbarg Society of Jewish Culture in Chernivtsi


Remark: The primary source for Yevgeniya Finkel’s research was the "Report of the 'Soviet Extraordinary Commission' for Czernowitz“. There is no doubt that Yevgeniya Finkel conducted the research with the greatest possible care. But, considering her very limited access to other sources and poor research conditions, there is no guarantee of any kind that the information it contains is accurate and/or complete.

Dr. Svetlana Frunchak: "Numerous Holocaust survivors’ memoirs concerning Bukovina were either written by survivors themselves or based on interviews with them. Many were published in Israel by Yad Vashem; others appeared in Germany, North America, and Ukraine. A particularly important source on the history of the Holocaust in Northern Bukovina and, to a lesser extent, neighboring regions, is a series published [by Yevgeniya Finkel] between 1991 and 1996 as the Herald of the [Eliezer Steinbarg] Society of Jewish Culture in Chernivtsi, with the support of the Association of the Prisoners of Nazi Ghettos and Concentration Camps and the Chernivtsi State Archive. The five issues of the Herald contained numerous recollections of Holocaust survivors who lived in Bukovina before, during, or after World War II; surveys of the Chernivtsi State Archive’s holdings concerning the Holocaust; lists of victims, perpetrators, and rescuers in various locations in Northern Bukovina; locations of mass executions and graves; and other related materials."

Read more: Marcus Winkler and Jewgenija Finkel, Juden aus Czernowitz. Ghetto, Deportation, Vernichtung, 1941–1944. Überlebende berichten. (Aus dem Russischen von Kateryna Stetsevych). [Jews from Czernowitz: Ghetto, Deportation, Extermination, 1941–1944. Survivors Tell Their Story (translated from Russian by Katerina Stetsevych)] (Wien/Vienna, 2005).

Courtesy: The Chernivtsi Museum of the History and Culture of Bukovinian Jews

31 May 2018

The Autobiography of Dr. Emanuel Merdinger


UF George A. Smathers Libraries: Emanuel Merdinger was born on March 29, 1906 in Suceava, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today in Romania. He completed an M.S. degree in pharmacology from the German University of Prague in 1931, then begun graduate studies at the University of Ferrara in Italy. In Ferrara, Dr. Merdinger managed to complete a PhD in Pharmacy and, a year later, in Chemistry. In 1935, he began teaching chemistry in the University of Ferrara's School of Engineering. In 1938 Dr. Merdinger lost his position at the university and taught at a private Jewish school. At the outbreak of WWII, he offered his services to the French army through the French Consulate in Ferrara, but was caught by the Fascist Police and harassed until he was sent to a concentration camp in the District of Vinnytsia, Ukraine. He was liberated by the Russian army in 1944 and stayed in Russia as a government toxicologist for another 11 months before returning to his post at the University of Ferrara. In 1947 he immigrated to the United States through the help of his sister living there. He obtained a position at Roosevelt University, the first during his long academic career in the U.S. There he also met his wife, Raidie Poole, who at the time worked as the university nurse. He held several high ranking posts at the Illinois State Academy of Science in the early 1970s. In 1976 he moved to Gainesville and worked for the U.S. Agricultural Laboratory. In 1978, he became a professor at UF and taught there until 1991. His contribution to the University was recognized by the University president. He served as the National Academy of Sciences exchange scientist to Romania (1971, 1972, and 1975) and Bulgaria (1974-1975). Dr. Merdinger was Professor Emeritus of the University of Florida until his death on December 12, 1997.

Courtesy:  UF George A. Smathers Libraries