The Yad VaShem International Holocaust Research Institute has launched the Hebrew online edition of the Ghetto Encyclopedia, containing over 1,100 entries, encompassing the history of all Jewish ghettos across Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII. The English edition of the encyclopedia, written by Prof. Gai Miron and Shlomit Shulhani of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, was published in October 2009 and was later translated into Hebrew.
Since the historiography on the ghettos in Europe during World War II had mainly been limited to the largest ones and that in fact most ghettos had never been systematically researched, the International Institute for Holocaust Research decided to conduct a comprehensive research project on the ghettos with the intention to publish an encyclopedia on the ghettos in Nazi occupied Europe.
This pioneering research project involved a systematic gathering of data from research studies, historical information, testimonies and documents dealing with more than 1,100 ghettos throughout mainly Eastern Europe where Jews were concentrated and whence they were deported. Information on conditions, the type of administration, the leadership, and individual coping methodologies were collected.
The data compiled records the stories of the Jews who were herded into and concentrated in various locations through the essential characteristics of the phenomenon. It reflects the differences between each ghetto and reveals the differences between each ghetto and reveals the radical changes in Jewish communal and individual life. Those changes are examined from various perspectives of daily life, coping strategies and the different forms of resistance. Thus, one is able to see the similarities and differences among the various ghettos. Some ghettos lasted only a few weeks, others a month or two, while in Poland and Lithuania some ghettos operated for years. There were different time divisions for the major events that impacted on the confined Jews throughout each ghetto’s existence, such as forced resettlement and adjustment; the sealing and isolation of the ghettos from the rest of the world; signs of imminent doom; and eventual deportation and murder.
In October 2009, the English edition of the encyclopedia was published by Yad Vashem. All entries include the location, the wartime names and geographical coordinates; and, for the larger ghettos, informational sections of the following:
Pre-World War II
German (Nazi) occupation
Ghetto institutions, and internal life
Murder, terror and killing operations of ghetto inhabitants
Underground and resistance
Number of survivors at liberation
The encyclopedia includes pictures and maps of the different ghettos.