In 2018, The British Embassy in Minsk hosted the launch of We Remember, Lest the World Forget – Memories of The Minsk Ghetto, a translation of memories of child survivors from Russian to English. The history of the Holocaust in Belarus is rarely spoken of, despite the fact that 800,000 Jews perished there.
“It was in 2014 that I first attended a gathering of former ghetto prisoners at the Holocaust Research Studio in Minsk. It was a bitterly cold evening; there was snow all around and the pavements were hellishly slippery as we made our way into the wooden building on Sukhaya Street. It was my trusted colleague, co-founder and director of The Together Plan UK, Artur Livshyts who had orchestrated the liaison that night. For some time, he had been introducing me to Jewish groups, isolated communities, vulnerable families and individuals. Together we had covered the length and breadth of Belarus, and I was developing a deep understanding of its traumatic history and its impact on the country as a whole. On that night, I met a brave and resilient group of people who had survived the most unthinkable tragedies, and yet here they were, still living on or close to the territory of the ghetto. I left deeply affected by these extraordinary men and women, who had never moved away from where they had lost so much. I had entered the building empty handed but came away clutching a recently published book in Russian. I am not a Russian speaker but was told that it contained a collection of the memories of survivors who had been children in the Minsk Ghetto (1941-43), many of them present in the room that very evening. I later discovered that only 300 copies of the book had been printed. I was intrigued.
I soon came to understand that this book had been produced only for private circulation due to a lack of funds, and thus it was prevented from ever reaching a wider audience. With the help of Artur Livshyts, I was able to ascertain that the texts offered clear, raw and personal insight into the tragic stories of loss and survival forged from the horrors of the Minsk Ghetto. In keeping with The Together Plan’s ethos to empower people and give them a voice, it became an imperative that we seek to translate these narratives, in a quest to amplify the voices of the survivors, thus ensuring that their stories could be shared with the English-speaking world. And so began the project which has led to the publication in English of this extraordinary book, a four-year journey which far surpassed the expectations that we had at the outset.”
– An extract from the preface, written by The Together Plan’s CEO Debra Brunner.
Read the book for free, online, or click below to buy a copy.