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Bagriansky-Zerner family collection

Document | Accession Number: 2013.503.3

The collection consists of immigration and personal identification documents, photographs, writings, correspondence and related materials that document the experiences of Paul and Gerta (nee Chason) Bagriansky, their daughter, Rosian Bagriansky Zerner, and their extended family. Included is information about their pre-war life in Lithuania, their life under Soviet and German occupation, including internment in the Kaunas ghetto and their escape from it, the hiding of Rosian with various Lithuanian acquaintances for the duration of the war, Paul Bagriansky’s experiences as a partisan during the occupation of Lithuania, and the reuniting of the family after the war and their experiences as displaced persons in Poland and Italy following the war and their eventual immigration to the United States. The collection is arranged in series by family member.

The papers of Paul (born Paulius) Bagriansky include immigration documents and photographs dating from his time living as a displaced person, with his family, in Italy following World War II, and include identification documents, correspondence, affidavits, and his certificate of naturalization as United States citizen. The largest portion of this series, though, consists of a series of essays written by Bagriansky in later decades, describing his and his family’s experiences in Lithuania from the period of the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the Baltic republics through the end of the World War II. Included are descriptions of life in the Kaunas ghetto, how his daughter Rosian was smuggled out of Kaunas, his own escape to Vilnius, his imprisonment in the latter city, and his time fighting as a partisan following his escape from prison. Some of these essays were published in 1987-1988 in the Israeli journal Publications of the Museum of the Combatants and Partisans. Also included are a series of photographs of Bagriansky’s birth family, including his grandparents, aunt and uncles, and cousins in pre-war Lithuania, and photos of his wife and daughter from the same period, and some photographs of their immediate postwar life as well.

The series of documents of Gerta Bagriansky consists primarily of materials related to her time in Italy as a displaced person and her immigration to the United States with her family in 1951, including identification documents, records of vaccinations, passports, and her naturalization certificate from the United States. Also included are a series of newspaper clippings on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2008, and her obituary in 2009. An additional group of photographs document the career of Gerta Bagriansky’s sister, Bella Chason, who immigrated to Israel and was a dancer with the Mary Wigman dance company. Photos depict Chason in various dance positions, and include a ticket to a performance in Tel Aviv in 1943, and photographs of Gerta and Bella with their mother, Anna Chason. Remaining photographs in this series include many depicting Gerta Bagriansky with her daughter Rosian during the latter’s infancy and early childhood in pre-war Lithuania, and some of Rosian from later years as well, and of other family members.

The series on Rosian Zerner is divided into two portions: one (titled “Rosian Zerner: Rescuers”) relating to information that she gathered about the individuals who sheltered her as a hidden child in Lithuania during the German occupation, and the other (titled “Rosian Zerner: General”) relating to other facets of her life, including original drawings and documents from her time as a hidden child, documents and photographs relating to her period as a displaced person in Italy after the war, and her subsequent immigration to the United States, and materials related to her education, her involvement in various social and civic organizations in Massachusetts from the 1970s to the 2000s, and her activities as a guest speaker and Holocaust survivor at various commemorative events in Massachusetts during the 1990s and 2000s. The section relating to Zerner’s wartime experiences include materials collected by Zerner in the 1990s and 2000s about the people who rescued her, especially Lidija Goluboviene. Included are correspondence with Goluboviene’s nephew and daughter-in-law, Vytautas Fugalewitsch and Annelies Stavskis, and biographical vignettes and other research material compiled by Fugalewitsch, both about Goluboviene and the others who rescued Zerner, including Natalia Fugalevičiūtė, Helene Holzman, and Natalia Jegorova. Also included is documentation relating to the naming of Zerner’s rescuers as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2005, and photographs from Zerner’s trips to Lithuania and Germany to meet with relatives of the rescuers between 1999 and 2009, as well as her visit with Lidija Goluboviene in Vilnius in 1972. This series also contains documentation of two ceremonies in Lithuania at which Goluboviene was posthumously honored, the first with a decree presented by President Valdas Adamkas in 2000, and then the bestowal of a medal, the Žūvančiųjų Gelbėjimo Kryžius (“Life Saving Cross”) in 2009. The decree and the medal are included in this collection, although the latter is cataloged separately as an artifact.

The accretion donated in 2017 consists of additional family photographs. The photographs of Bella Chason include depictions of her as a dancer in the 1920s and postwar photographs from Israel. The photographs of Rosian Zerner include depictions of her as a child with her parents in pre-war Lithuania and postwar images of her in Italy. Other photographs include pre-war and postwar depictions of Rosian’s parents and other relatives.

inclusive:  circa 1900-circa 2013
bulk:  1935-1950
4 boxes
1 oversize box
2 folders
1 oversize folder
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Rosian Bagriansky Zerner
Record last modified: 2021-11-10 13:03:13
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