Welcome to our blog about our stay in Vilnius and Minsk
6th-13th June 2014
In October 1941, Bremen Jews received a letter: they were to be evacuated eastwards to work, as they were said, in the reconstruction of the cities destroyed by bombings. They had to deliver the keys to their apartments to the local police station. Every family member could only take a suitcase weighing 25 kg. It could contain clothing, bed-sheets and shoes. All their other belongings, money, valuables and possessions were taken over by the Nazi state. On the day they left Bremen, they also lost their German citizenship. 570 Jews from Bremen were deported to the ghetto in Minsk on the 18th of November 1941. Among them were 63 children. Their train needed 3 days to get to Minsk. Today we started on the same itinerary from Bremen to Minsk, as part of the Bremen delegation, to participate in the laying of the foundational stone of a Holocaust memorial in Trostenez, near Minsk, where many of the Jews from the Minsk ghetto were executed.
We are Pia Zarsteck and Aline Bludau and are both students of the University of Bremen. Last semester, we both attended a seminar entitled “Travelling History” taught by the Polish historian Magdalena Waligorska, which dealt with Jewish heritage travel in Eastern Europe. Today we have joined such a travel ourselves and go to two key centres of Jewish life: Vilnius and Minsk, both to find out more about Jewish heritage in Lithuania and Belarus and to commemorate Jews from Bremen, who were deported to Eastern Europe and killed in Minsk.
So, let’s start!