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Masha Rolnikaite papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2006.436.3

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    The Masha Rolnikaite collection consists of correspondence, documents, manuscript texts, news clippings, and other related materials, concerning the life and literary career of Rolnikaite (1927-2016), the Lithuanian-born chronicler of the Holocaust, whose best known work was her account of her time spent in the Vilnius ghetto, titled “Ia dolzhna rasskazat’” (I Must Tell).

    The correspondence series includes various letters written by and sent to Masha Rolnikaite. These include Boris Galperin son of Dmitry Galperin and survivor of the Kovno ghetto; Mira, Masha’s older sister and survivor of the Vilna ghetto; and Yaakov Bunka, a Jewish Lithuanian sculptor who lived and worked in Plunge, Lithuania, and includes Masha Rolnikaite’s review of the book of Yaakov Bunka Plunge: Pages of the History; as well as readers, publishers, and various institutions.

    The correspondence of Ilya Ehrenburg and Masha Rolnikaite include articles and speeches written by Ilya Ehrenburg; Rolnikaite’s recollection about her first meeting with Ilya Ehrenburg in 1961; the introduction written by Ilya Ehrenburg to the French edition of I Must Tell; memoirs about Ilya Ehrenburg written by Arthur Khavkin, 1970; memoirs about a meeting with Ljuba Michailowna Kosinzewa (Ehrenburg’s widow) and Irina Erburg (Ehrenburg’s adopted daughter) written by Arthur Khavkin, 1967- 1970; a translation of Arthur Khavkin memoirs in Yiddish; a translation of the response written by Irina Ehrenburg and published in the Yiddish newspaper Naye Presse regarding the transfer of the Ilya Ehrenburg archives to Yad Vashem Museum’s archives, 1988; fragments of memoirs of meeting meeting with Ilya Ehrenburg and Lyubov Kozintseva (Liubov Kozintsova) in 1940 with translation, 1989; newspaper clippings and articles about Ilya Ehrenburg published literary journals; and two photographs of Ilya Ehrenburg.

    The Holocaust testimonies and articles include Zverstva w Ponarakh ( Crimes in Ponary) amd My ne sdavalis (We did not surrender) by Yuliy Farber; “Kak Vam Zhivetsya”(How do you do) by Kszisztof Konkolewski about Maximilian Kolbe; “Plen” (Captivity) by Sonya Anvaer, Soviet POW; Table of contents of a Soviet publication of the selected testimonies about the Holocaust, including an excerpt from Rolnikaite’s article; “Testimony about life in Fascist Captivity,” by Lev Ruzhetsky, 1944, a 7th grade student in Odessa; Margarite Aliger – Ilya Ehrenburg poetry; “Babiy Yar” poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and poetic responses by Aleksey Markov “Moy Otvet (My response), response poem by A. Yakovlev and Samuil Marshak to Markov; “Shtetale Belz” poem in Russian by unidentified author; a “I was 15” from the Shmerke Kaczerginski collection in Yad Vashem which contains excerpts from the diaries of children from the Vilna ghetto (Yitskhok Rudashevski, Gabik Hellere, Masha Rolnikaite); a letter from David Fishman, an American Jewish historian, with a manuscript; “Songs from Camps and Ghettos” Shmerke Kaczerginski” with the dedication to Masha Rolnikaite written by Nechama Lifshitzaite, a Lithuanian Jewish vocalist and a translation of the song into Russian. Also included are articles by Christine M. Pabst and Manfred Wieninger regarding Anton Schmid, a rescuer of Jews from the Vilna ghetto; correspondence between Pabst, Wieninger, and Rolnikaite; “Stena Placha,” a poem by I. Kushkin (student at school #180 in St. Petersburg); “unpublished facts” and other notes for various publications, corrections, clarifications, preparatory and research materials, and translations of newspaper articles.
    inclusive:  circa 1930-2015
    Collection Creator
    Masha Rolniḳaiṭe
    Masha Rolnikaite (1927-2016) [alternately known as Mascha Rolnik, Mashe Rolniḳayṭe, M. (Marii︠a︡), Rolʹnikaĭte, Marii︠a︡ Grigorʹevna Rolʹnikaĭte, ראלניקייטע, מ], was born as Marii︠a︡ Grigorʹevna Rolʹnikaĭte on 21 July 1927 in Memel, present-day Klaipeda, Lithuania. Her father, Hirsch Rolnik (1898-1973), was an attorney who earned his law degree with a thesis about constitutional law in the Baltic states, and she grew up in Plunge, Lithuania. When Vilnius was transferred to Lithuanian control, however, the family opted to move there, and it was there they were living when World War II broke out, and the city was first occupied by Soviet troops in June 1940, and following the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany in June 1941, by the Germans.

    During this latter period, Rolnikaite and other members of her family were forced into the Vilnius Ghetto, and it was there that she began keeping the diary that she would ultimately publish. Due to the danger of keeping a written diary, she was forced to memorize her entries for a time, and some entries that she later was able to write down were either destroyed in the camps where she was interned, or she destroyed the remaining originals herself, after they were published in the post-war years.

    During the occupation, her father, endangered both due to his Jewish background but also because of his work as an attorney defending Communists, fled ahead of the German forces, and survived the Holocaust, as did her older sister, Mira. Her mother, Taiba, and younger siblings, Rajele and Ruwele, as well as over 40 other relatives, perished during the Holocaust. Rolnikaite, following her internment in the Vilnius ghetto, was transferred to Strasdenhof, a camp affiliated with the Kaiserwald concentration camp in Riga, Latvia. She was later transferred to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig, where she was liberated by Soviet troops in early 1945.

    Following the war, she reconstructed her wartime diaries from memory and surviving fragments, compiling them in Yiddish into three volumes. She studied as a long-distance student at the Maxim Gorki Institute of Literature, earning a degree in 1955. In the early 1960s, she translated her diaries into Russian and Lithuanian, and censored versions were then published, under the title of Ia dolzhna rasskazat,’ (I Must Tell), first in Lithuanian (1963), and then Russian (1965), and then other languages, including French and German. In the early 2000s complete, uncensored, versions of this work were published, as was a sequel of autobiographical essays.

    Rolnikaite married a Russian, Semyon Savelyevich Tsukernik (born 1922), in 1959, and the couple settled in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), where she lived the remainder of her life. She died in St. Petersburg on 7 April 2016.
    1995.A.0989.8. Sketches of a fellow concentration camp inmate by Esther Lurie: Portrait of Masha Rolnik, Leibisch concentration camp, 1944

    RG-68.118: 2011.12. Mikhail Lev collection, 1940-2008

    Physical Details

    15 boxes
    9 oversize boxes
    1 book enclosure
    2 oversize folders
    System of Arrangement
    The Masha Rolnikaite papers is arranged in nine series.

    Series 1: Correspondence with Authors, Family, Friends, Readers, and Institutions, circa 1950s-2000s
    Series 2: Biographical Materials, circa 1950s-1990s
    Series 3: Manuscripts, Shorts Stories by Masha Rolnikaite, circa 1960s-2000s
    Series 4: Collected Materials from Holocaust Survivors, Authors, and Institutions, circa 1940s-2000s
    Series 5: Notebooks, Diaries, and Loose Leaf Notes, circa 1950s-2000s
    Series 6: Photographs, Albums, Scrapbooks, and Slides, circa 1930s-2000s
    Series 7: Scrapbook, 1939-1988
    Series 8: Newspapers and Magazines, circa 1950s-2000s
    Series 9: Awards and certificates, 2003-2006

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Aleksandrovna, Kira. Aliger, Margarita, 1915-1992. Anvaer, Sonya. Belousov, Alexander. Bunka, Yaakov. Druker, Irma. Eckert, Christina. Ehrenburg, Ilya Grigoryevich, 1891-1967. Ehrenburg, Irina. Farber, Yuliy. Fishman, David. Friedman, Avrora. Galperin, Boris. Hellere, Gabik. Jadwiska, Jadwige. Jonaitis, Henrikas. Jugeborg, Keil. Kharkin, Arthur Moiseevich. Kolbe, Maximilian, 1894-1941. Kosinzewa, Ljuba Michailowna. Kozintsova, Liubov, 1900-1970. Lev, Mikhail, 1917-2013. Lifshitzaite, Nechama. Manurova, Milya. Marshak, Samuil, 1887-1964. Meyer, Hershel D. Pabst, Christine M. Piepka, Jan. Rabin, Iosif, 1900-1987. Razumny, Mark, 1896-1988. Rolnikaite, Masha, 1927-2016. Rudashevski, Yitskhok, 1927-1943. Ruzhetsky, Lev. Schechtman, Eli, 1908-1996. Schmid, Anton, 1900-1942. Tsukernik, Semyon Savelyevich, 1922-? Vershinin, Michail. Wieninger, Manfred. Yevtushenko, Yevgeny, 1932-2017. Zapruder, Alexandra.

    Administrative Notes

    Masha Rolnikaite donated a first part of the collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on July 16, 2006.
    Vitaly Vladimirovich Romanenko donated a second part of the collection in 2016.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-02 08:46:25
    This page:

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