The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the world's largest center devoted to Yiddish studies, had been seeking the return of an enormous collection of pre-World-War-II material that had been taken when the Nazis occupied Lithuania.
Lithuania did not want to return the materials, considering them part of its heritage. But now, The New York Times reports, YIVO is recovering the material – digitally.
The center has arranged a $5.25 million project to work with Lithuania's government to digitally copy 250,000 pages of documents and 4,200 books that were saved and then place them in a Web portal, where scholars worldwide can access them, the Times reports.
The YIVO collection in Manhattan — 24 million items covering the immigrant Jewish experience in America as well as the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe — will also be digitally copied as part of the estimated seven-year project, says the Times.
“These materials are Holocaust survivors,” David E. Fishman, a professor of Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, told the paper.
Fishman, who is working on a chronicle of the YIVO collection’s rescue, said, “Like a survivor, these materials were controlled by the Germans. Like a survivor, they were in hiding. The fact that they were saved is miraculous.”
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