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Vilna Collection

 Collection
Identifier: RG 29, Series 2

Scope and Content Note

These materials are, for the most part, representative of various Jewish organizations and institutions active in Vilna prior to World War II. These records were part of the YIVO Vilna Archives which were taken by the Germans in 1942 and recovered from the premises of the NSDAP Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage (The Institute for the Study of the Jewish question) in Frankfurt am Main and sent to YIVO in New York City in 1947. The collection consists of correspondence, reports, minutes of meetings, lists, financial records, statistical surveys, leaflets, posters, and other material relating to Jewish life in Vilna circa 1900-1940, the bulk of which date circa 1917-1940. These materials relate to the following categories, although they are not strictly arranged in this way.

Communal and social welfare organizations – among them are HIAS, ORT, OSE/TOZ, Tsentraler Hilfs Komitet (Central Relief Committee), YEKOPO (Jewish War Relief Committee), JDC (Joint Distribution Committee), and AJRF (American Joint Reconstruction Foundation). Also included are charity organizations (e.g. Linat Hatzedek, Achva, Ezra, Agudat Achim), orphanages and old age homes, child-care agencies, soup kitchens, subsidized school kitchens, societies to assist the ill and poor (e.g. Gemiles Khesed, Mishmeret Kholim, Kasa Chorych, etc.), and interest-free loan associations (e.g. CEKABE, Dwora Esther Free-Loan Association, Bafrayung Free-Loan Society, and the Central Jewish Peoples’ Cooperative Bank).

Educational and cultural institutions – schools (e.g. the Tarbut Teachers’ Seminary, TSYSHO, Shul-kult, Hevrah Mefitsei Haskalah, Takhkemani, Tushia, Herzlia), cultural and scientific societies (e.g. Der bin (The Bee), Jewish Scientific Society, S. Ansky Historical and Ethnographic Society, Kultur lige, Yidisher Kultur Fareyn (Jewish Culture Society), Tiferes Bachurim,), private study groups, artists clubs (e.g. the Jewish Arts Society), musical societies (e.g. the Jewish Music Society), libraries (e.g. the Strashun Library), language clubs (e.g. the Jewish Esperanto Association, Lovers of the Hebrew Language), theater groups (e.g. Friends of the Yiddish Theater), and publishing houses and publications (Kletzkin and Ahiasaf publishing houses, Grininke beymelekh (Green Trees), Der shtern (The Star), Vilner tog (Vilna Day), Kol mevasser (The Herald), Fraye shriftn (Free Writings), and Der vilner ekspres (The Vilna Express)).

Political organizations – election leaflets and questionnaires for organizations such as Hapoel Hatzair, Hashomer Hatzair, Histadrut Hehalutz, Hovevei Zion, Ze’irei Zion, Gordonia, Keren Hayesod, Betar, Agudas Israel, the Bund, and the Jewish Democratic Party (the Folkspartey).

Religious institutions, yeshivot, synagogues, study groups – included are religious appeals and letters from rabbis, the Taharat Hakodesh Synagogue, the Beit Haknesset Hagadol (Great Synagogue), the Poalei Zedek Synagogue, and the Kabronishe Synagogue.

Official government, municipal and legal documents – election leaflets pertaining to the Sejm (Polish Parliament), City Council, and the Vilna Kehillah, minutes, budgets, and reports of the Vilna municipality, statistical population studies, census forms, tax decrees, and manifests.

Trade unions and professional association – included are the Union of Garment Workers, the Trade Union of Industrial and Commercial Employees, the Union of Metal Workers, the Union of Bakery Workers, the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists, the Association of Jewish Physicians, and the Union of Medical personnel.

Also included within this collection are memoirs about World War I, as well as accounts of pogroms and persecution of the Jews, c.1917-1919, and materials on the German occupation during World War I and the Soviet occupation, 1918-1920. There are also general statistical materials on the Jewish and non-Jewish population of Vilna, 1916-1920, records relating to Soviet and Lithuanian rule, and materials on refugees, 1939-1940.

Dates

  • 1872, 1884, 1900-1940
  • Majority of material found within 1917-1940

Language of Materials

The collection is in Yiddish, Polish, Hebrew, German, Russian some Lithuanian, English, and Latin.

Access Restrictions

Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Historical Note

The documents in this subject collection reflect the experience of the Jews of Vilna in the inter-war period. During and after World War I, various relief committees were developed to aid the Jewish community. Among those organizations that served the needs of the Jewish people of Vilna were those focused on health care, education, social welfare, economic needs, cultural outlets, political parties and groups, and a spectrum of religious organizations. Until 1915, Vilna was part of the Russian Empire, at which point the German army occupied the city from 1915 until early 1918. The city was then under Soviet occupation from 1918-1920. Poland, Soviet Russia and Lithuania then fought for possession of the city for several years until it officially became part of the Polish Republic in 1922. Vilna was part of Poland until its annexation by the Russians in 1939. The city was subsequently invaded by the Nazis in 1941.

Biographical / Historical

The documents in this subject collection reflect the experience of the Jews of Vilna in the inter-war period. During and after World War I, various relief committees were developed to aid the Jewish community. Among those organizations that served the needs of the Jewish people of Vilna were those focused on health care, education, social welfare, economic needs, cultural outlets, political parties and groups, and a spectrum of religious organizations. Until 1915, Vilna was part of the Russian Empire, at which point the German army occupied the city from 1915 until early 1918. The city was then under Soviet occupation from 1918-1920. Poland, Soviet Russia and Lithuania then fought for possession of the city for several years until it officially became part of the Polish Republic in 1922. Vilna was part of Poland until its annexation by the Russians in 1939. The city was subsequently invaded by the Nazis in 1941.

Extent

5.625 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection consists of correspondence, reports, minutes of meetings, financial records, statistical surveys, election materials, announcements, flyers, and other materials related to Jewish life in Vilna during the inter-war period. Documents of earlier years are also included.

Arrangement

This is a subject collection that relates to the inter-war Jewish community in Vilna. The collection is comprised of discrete pages that were once part of various collections in the YIVO Archives in Vilna. Record Group 29 is divided into two chronological series. Series 1 (c.1822-1917) covers the period leading up to the end of World War I. Series 2 (c.1900-1940) pertains to Vilna in the interwar period.

The criterion employed for the arrangement of this collection is topical in nature. Documents are generally arranged according to the names of the societies, organizations, associations, and institutions to which they pertained. The collection is comprised of 263 folders. Materials in this collection are in a variety of languages, primarily Yiddish, Polish, Hebrew, Russian, as well as some Lithuanian and English.

Acquisition Information

These records were part of the YIVO Vilna Archives which were taken by the Germans during World War II and recovered by YIVO New York in 1947.

Related Material

Related material can be found in various collections in the YIVO Vilna Archives which contain similar geographic and historical content about Vilna Jewry. The YIVO Archives have a great many other collections about Jews in Poland and the Russian Empire. Among these are the Poland (Vilna) Collection RG 28; Vilna Jewish Community Council, RG 10; the Papers of Hirsz Abramowicz, who was the director of Hilf Durkh Arbet, RG 446; Records of Hevra Mefitsei Haskalah Society, RG 22; Records of the ORT Society, RG 47, and the ORT Vocational School (Vilna) RG 21; Records of OSE-TOZ, RG 53; Papers of Tsemakh Szabad, RG 19; Records of Tarbut Hebrew Teachers Seminary (Vilna), RG 23; Records of Vaad Hayeshivot (Vilna), RG 25; Records of TSYSHO (Tsentrale Yidishe Shul Organizatsye), RG 48; Papers of Khaykl Lunski, RG 58; and many others.

Separated Material

There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

Processing information

Arranged by Shloyme Krystal. Edited by Rivka Schiller with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation, 2006. Additional processing completed in 2012.
Title
Guide to the Vilna Collection 1872, 1884, 1900-1940 (bulk 1917-1940) RG 29, Series 2
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Shloyme Krystal.  Finding edited by Rivka Schiller and Marek Web with the assistance of a grant from the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison.
Date
©2012
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States