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Papers of Nachman Blumental

 Collection
Identifier: RG 2238

Scope and Contents

Series I consists of Nachman Blumental's professional career, including correspondence, extensive Holocaust research, and publications.

Subseries 1: Material for the Nazi German dictionary is divided into two sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries A consists of notes, entries, and source material related to Blumental's German Nazi dictionary project. Materials in folders are loosely organized alphabetically, and source materials range from photographs, correspondence, to administrative Nazi documents. Extensive notes and entries (including Blumental's edits), both typed and handwritten, make up the bulk of the Sub-subseries.

Sub-subseries B consists of the extensive dictionary cards (including bibliography cards, etc.) written down and organized by Blumental. Majority of the cards are loosely organized alphabetically, but also include miscellaneous materials and cards about historical figures, geographic locations, and terms and idioms used by Jews in ghettos and camps.

Subseries 2 consists of correspondence between individuals and organizations related to Blumental's professional work. Of note is the extensive correspondence between Blumental and Yad Vashem (where he worked), which also includes material and notes related to Yad Vashem, including agreements, publications, institutional records, pamphlets and programs for conferences, etc; various newspapers; historians and writers.

Subseries 3 consists of essays and articles written by Nachman Blumental, as well as writings collected by Nachman Blumental but penned by others. The essays and articles predominantly focus on various aspects of the Holocaust, and include handwritten drafts, typed drafts, and publications (mainly newspaper clippings). Materials are loosely organized by subject (or by title, if the item is a published pamphlet or brochure), although there is significant overlap between the folders as the majority of the writings are focused on several aspects of the Holocaust.

Subseries 4 contains the rich and extensive Holocaust research that Blumental dedicated his life to gathering and collecting.

Sub-subseries A consists of notes gathered and collected by Blumental on various aspects of the Holocaust and Jewish life during the war. Sources include numerous memoirs, testimonies, diaries, literary work, songs, poems, books, official and administrative Nazi documents, articles and essays, newspaper clippings, and correspondence.

Sub-subseries B contains witness accounts, testimonies, and memoirs, while Sub-subseries C includes materials on songs, poems, parodies, music, and folklore from various camps and ghettos.

Sub-subseries D focuses on the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto, and includes important originial Nazi and Judenrat documents. It also contains Blumental's initial work on his Łódź Ghetto Encyclopedia, as well as issues of the Geto-tsaytung. Sub-subseries E includes original documents from labor and concentration camps including Auschwitz,Bełżec, and Lipowa camp, as well as a file on Josef Küppers.

Series II contains personal correspondence with friends and family, family photos, and Blumental's personal diaries, writings, as well as personal documents, such as medical, finanacial,and employment records. Access to Series II is currently restricted.

References

Katrin Stoll, “Traces of the Holocaust in Nachman Blumental’s Archive: The Murder of Maria and Ariel Blumental in Wielopole Skrzyńskie during the German Occupation,” in: Yad Vashem Studies 49 (2021), S. 155-193.

http://yleksikon.blogspot.com/2015/02/nakhmen-nachman-blumental.html

Dates

  • 1901-1983
  • Majority of material found in 1940s-1970s

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is predominantly in Yiddish, Polish, German, Hebrew, with some French, Russian, English, as well as individual items in Ukrainian, Bashkir, and Spanish.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is currently being digitized and images will go up on a rolling basis. Restricted access to Series 2: Personal. If you have any questions, please contact reference@yivo.org.

Biographical / Historical

Nachman Blumental was born in 1902 in Borszczów (Galicia, Austria-Hungary), today Borshchiv, Ukraine. Before the war, he studied Polish language and literature, history, and education at the University of Warsaw. He received his first degree of philosophy in 1928, and from then on he worked as a schoolteacher in Lublin and later in Łódź. Blumental completed his master's degree with a thesis called “O przenośni” (On Metaphor) in 1934. He published articles on literature, literary theory, folklore, and metaphorology in Yiddish newspapers and magazines such as Literarishe bleter (a newspaper published by his cousin, Nachman Meisel), Naye shul, Vokhnblat, Arbeter-tsaytung, Foroys, Lublin togblat, and others, as well as in Polish periodicals such as Dziennik Urzędowy Kuratorjum Okręgu Szkolnego Lubelskiego. Already before the war, Blumental had acted as a zamler, a collector of ethnographic and historical documents on the Jews and was a member of the Friends of YIVO society of Łódź, headed by Dr. Filip Fridman (Philip Friedman). In 1939, he returned to Borszczów, where he worked as a school inspector until 1941. After the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, he relocated to Bashkiria (officially, Bashkortostan), where he worked as a high school teacher as well as the head of pedagogy.

After surviving the Holocaust in a non-German occupied part of the Soviet Union, Blumental became directly involved in documenting the Holocaust, as well as investigating the murder of his wife Maria Tewel and son Ariel Blumental, who were murdered in Wielopole Skrzyńskie during the German occupation. Blumental was the co-founder of the Jewish Historical Committee (Żydowska Komisja Historyczna), a Holocaust research body organized in Lublin in August 1944. In December 1944, the commission became an agency of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland (CKŻP) and was renamed the Central Jewish Historical Commission (Centralna Żydowska Komisja Historyczna). The Commission, among other tasks, collected numerous Holocaust testimonies. The CKŻP then became the Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny; ŻIH) in Warsaw, and Blumental served as its first director from 1947-1950. Blumental also acted as an expert witness in various Nazi trials in Poland, including those of Amon Göth in 1946, and Rudolf Höss.

Blumental dedicated his life to collecting, researching, and compiling all materials related to ghettos, camps, sites of mass murder, and Nazi terminology. He was especially interested in the specific vocabulary and “doublespeak” utilized by German Nazis in official administrative documents and in materials presented to the public during the Holocaust. Blumental stated that “the Nazi language was one of the most important tools used by the Germans in the physical extermination of the Jewish people.” Blumental’s extensive handwritten and typed notecards formed the basis of Słowa niewinne (Innocent Words), a dictionary of German Nazi words published in 1947.

In 1981, Blumental published Verter un vertlekh fun der khurbn-tkufe (Words and sayings from the Holocaust era).

Blumental died in Tel-Aviv in 1983.

Extent

45 Linear Feet (45 linear feet; 3 oversize boxes and 26 dictionary card boxes)

Abstract

The collection contains the papers of Nachman Blumental (1902-1983), a Polish-Jewish historian, scholar, and philologist, who after surviving the Holocaust in a non-German occupied part of the Soviet Union travelled around Poland collecting documents and materials related to ghettos, camps, sites of mass murder, and Holocaust survivors. These materials include, among others, survivor testimonies, witness accounts, original Nazi administrative documents, songs, poems, jokes, parodies, folklore, and children’s schoolwork written during the war, oftentimes in camps and ghettos, as well as Blumental’s extensive notes on Nazi terminology and distinct terminology used by Jews in camps and ghettos. The collection consists of correspondence, published and unpublished articles by Nachman Blumental and other individuals, newspaper clippings, research notes, Nazi documents, and dictionary and bibliography note cards.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into 2 series:

  1. Series I: Professional (1901-1983)
  2. Subseries 1: Dictionary
  3. Sub-subseries A: Notes, entries, and source material
  4. Sub-subseries B: Cards
  5. Subseries 2: Correspondence
  6. Sub-subseries A: Individuals
  7. Sub-subseries B: Organizations
  8. Subseries 3: Essays, articles, published material
  9. Subseries 4: Research
  10. Sub-subseries A: Notes and materials on the Holocaust
  11. Sub-subseries B: Testimonies and memoirs
  12. Sub-subseries C: Art, literature, music, folklore
  13. Sub-subseries D: Łódź ghetto
  14. Series II: Personal (1902-1980)
  15. Subseries 1: Correspondence
  16. Subseries 2: Photos
  17. Subseries 3: Documents and writings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated to YIVO by Miron Blumental in June 2019.

Title
Papers of Nachman Blumental
Author
Preliminary description and processing by Katrin Stoll. Materials further processed, described, finding aid encoded, and prepared for digitization by Beata Kasiarz in 2022.
Date
©2022
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

Contact:
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New York NY 10011 United States