Source: New York Times
A new Web portal, Jewish Life in Poland, is making directly accessible thousands of maps, photos, films and other everyday artifacts of what was once the largest community of Eastern European Jews before World War II. Little remains of that world, but the site’s creator, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, once located in Poland but now in New York, has created a portal that presents a variety of documents, videos (from film), audio clips in Yiddish , Polish, Hebrew and Russian — all described in English.
The writings range from poems, school essays, play manuscripts, sheet music, posters of political and cultural events, birth certificates, letters from Yiddish writers to publishers, posters of soccer matches, contributor lists for political groups and organizational minutes.
The site is searchable by keyword and features galleries that can easily be browsed.
During World War II, the Nazis invaded Vilna, Poland, where YIVO was located, and looted its collection, intending to send it to Frankfurt to create an institute for study of the Jewish people. After the war, the U.S. Army helped YIVO recover the materials that had survived in chaotic disarray (with pages crumbled, torn, or severed from a manuscript and scattered), and 400 crates were shipped to New York.
Right now the portal makes about 4,000 pages of documents accessible. YIVO expects over the next seven years to post a total of 1.5 million pages of documents from its New York collection and what remains in the former Vilna now Vilnius, Lithuania.