'Is there anyone in Germany who has heard about the Holocaust by bullets?'

( Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Babi-Yar / Ukraine 2021 )

My research began 1997 at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It was at the National Archives that I saw my uncle’s party membership card for the very first time in front of my eyes – and it was there at the National Archives that I learned for the very first time about my uncle’s many trips to the former so called ‚Occupied Territorries of the East’. And I slowly began to grasp the meaning behind (t)his typically quite confusing sounding official title »Stellvertretender Leiter des freiwilligen Europäischen Sondereinsatzes in den besetzten Ostgebieten«
("Deputy of the Voluntary European Special Mission in the Occupied Territories of the East").

There are plenty of documented journeys he undertook from Berlin to Kaunas between the years 1942-1944, all meant to set up the structures for the settlement of Dutch farmers and craftsmen in the Baltics to be followed by like-minded settlers from Denmark, Belgium and France.

And it was in Washington D.C. that I discovered the book Heroism and Bravery in Lithuania 1941-1944 in which Alex Faitelson speaks about Jewish Resistance in Kaunas and the legendary mass escape from the Fort that he inspired, helped organise and led to success.

Burkhard von Harder, 2009
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