The scale of loss and devastation during WWII is unparalleled in human history. Involving approximately 100 million combatants from 30 countries, the conflict from 1939-1945 was truly global, with total casualties estimated at 60-85 million people. Led by Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany and her Axis allies sought complete territorial domination of Europe and the Pacific. On the Western front, the Allied forces, led by England, France and the US, forced Hitler’s eventual collapse. In the East, the Soviet Union alone bore the brunt of German aggression, suffering total losses of over 26 million while ultimately proving victorious in the epic battle known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. Over 30 million strong, the Soviet Red Army was the largest and most ethnically-diverse military force in the war. Among its troops, the participation of approximately 500,000 Soviet Jewish soldiers is unknown to most. Through archival photographs and documents, and contemporary veteran interviews, the multimedia exhibit “Lives of the Great Patriotic War” presents, for the first time, the incredible story of the participation of Jewish soldiers in the Red Army during WWII.
As soldiers they fought in the war’s largest military force, as citizens of the country with the heaviest absolute losses. As Jews, members of a group targeted for genocide, they survived the Holocaust and contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany. The exhibit presents the remarkable personal stories of those who were there, explores the environment in which they lived and the unique circumstances they encountered in combat as Soviet Jews.
The Blavatnik Archive Foundation is committed to preserving the history and personal stories of Soviet Jewish WWII soldiers. We are honored to commemorate the lives and legacy of all the veterans.