Esperanto & the Holocaust Museum (Holokaŭsto-Muzeo)

[Verkite anglalingve 2007.01.19, red. 2007.03.31 & 2007.04.04]

I experienced an intellectually stimulating but ultimately very depressing day [2007.01.18] at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [in Washington DC] attending this symposium: The Holocaust: Cultural Elites, Collaboration, Murder.

It was, conceptually speaking, quite fascinating. But I started reacting emotionally during the last two presentations, which were about Eastern Europe. The last paper was about the Romanian Iron Guard, which was over the top. But before that, there was a talk with film clips, on the Hungarian film industry and anti-Semitic tropes in Hungarian film in the 1930s. I never knew much about Hungary, but contemplating this situation made me physically ill. And it made palpable for me the social conditions under which Esperanto literature flourished in Hungary in the 1930s, reaching unprecedented aesthetic heights at the very moment that the surrounding society was plunging into barbarism.

Some years ago Jim Ryan organized a symposium on Esperanto at the Holocaust Museum. While those of us who participated offered some relevant historical information, the Holocaust Museum wanted extensive documentation, preferably primary sources on anything related to Esperanto and the fascist persecutions. I was supposed to be a liaison to the museum forwarding them whatever documentation I could dig up. I never found the time to make this a serious project, but some time later I inquired at the IEMW, the Esperanto section of the Austrian National Library, and I was informed they had material, but specifics were not given. (This was before their catalog was digitized and searchable on the Internet. I don't know the situation now.) And books on the subject continue to appear in Esperanto. In addition, the memoir (Maskerado Ĉirkaŭ la Morto) of Esperanto publisher Teodoro Schwartz—father of George Soros—was translated into English by Humphrey Tonkin and is in the museum's library.

Esperanto is included in the museum's online photo archive:

Meeting of Esperanto speakers in Huesco, Spain. [Photograph #61563]

Annual conference of Esperanto speakers in Brussels, Belgium. [Photograph #63673]

[As the search engine does not yield stable URLs, I have assembled the photos and captions on my own web page in accordance with the Museum's regulations and have added my Esperanto translation.]

Both photos belong to the story of Paul Halter, who survived Auschwitz and was later credited for his role in the Belgian Resistance.

The online library catalog yields these items:
Balbin, Julius.
Bitch of Buchenwald
Dwellings of doom = Damnejoj
Strangled cries
Soros, Tivadar
Masquerade: dancing around death in Nazi-occupied Hungary
S?panska revolucija u slici 19. juli 1936 = Estampas de la revolucio´n espan~ola 19 julio de 1936 = La re´volution d'Espagne en image 19. julliet>
The Nazis' own archives of SS activities in Poland are available. The following information was found in a USHMM Archival Finding Aid:

manuscript RG-15.007M
Records of the RSHA - Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Office of the High Command of Security Service pursuing the racial objectives of the SS through Race and Resettlement Office) [microform].


291. Radio broadcasts (texts of). Folder labeled Classeur "L'Esperanto": lists of foreign radio broadcasts by topic, 1940, with typed scripts. January, September 1940. 310 pages.

417. Correspondence concerning the movements of Experimentalists. SDHA II 113: reports to Heydrich on Catholic Esperanto movement. 1935. 8 pages.

421. Correspondence concerning the organization of Experimentalists Instructionalists). SDHA II 122: file on Esperanto Orgaization; seized printed matter and correspondence; SD reports to Heydrich and internal directives and correspondence. 1931 - 1937. 265 pages.

The Steven Spielberg Archive contains this documentary film:
Five Cities
Story RG-60.2479, Tape 239
Title: Jewish Life in Bialystok
Event Date:1939
Category: Documentary
Language: Yiddish
Place: Bialystok, Poland
Description: From NCJF catalog: Vivid cinematography and music evoke the industrial and cultural center that was Bialystok in 1939. Images of smokestacks, power looms and textile workers; downtown shops and buses,market day with peasants and horses; schools, synagogues, the Sholem Aleichem Library, the TOZ sanatorium, and a community-run summer camp reflect the diversity of the city's 200 year old Jewish community. In addition to the tile-roofed home of Dr. Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto, "Jewish Life in Bialystok" features memorable images of a spacious park where young adults relax and children play.
Source: Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive (SSJFA)
Copyright: Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive (SSJFA)
Time Code: 03:01:16 - 03:11:24
USHMM Format: 16mm, b/w pos; 1"; Betacam SP; VHS
Producer: Yitzhak Goskind
CameramanV. Kazimierczak; Text/Narration: Asher Lerner
Production Date: 1939
Biography / History:
Accession Info:
PE Monitor:
Notes: "Five Cities": In 1938 and 1939, Shaul and Yitzhak Goskind of Warsaw-based Sektor Films produced six short films about urban Jewish communities in Poland. One, about Lodz, is lost. The other five-on Bialystok, Cracow, Lwow, Vilna, and Warsaw-have survived.

Lest we forget, lest we forget.

"Fascism has awakened a sleeping world to the realities of the irrational, mystical character structure of the people of the world."
— Wilhelm Reich

La supra anglalingva teksto resumas simpozion pri kunlaborado de intelektuloj kun la nazioj, sen rilato kun Esperanto. Cetere, mi raportas pri aferoj pri Esperanto troveblaj en la arkivoj en la Usona Memoriga Holokaŭsto-Muzeo. Konsultu ankaŭ mian retpaĝon kun fotoj kaj biografieto de esperantisto Paul Halter kaj familianoj.

No comments: