Course incoporates first-hand Holocaust accounts

By Michelle Roberts

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The evidence remained locked up for years. One and a half million Soviet Jews were massacred in the Holocaust, but the first-hand accounts of victims and journalists remained concealed in files until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Some of those closed documents were the writings of Soviet journalist Vasily Grossman. Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin had Grossman made a "non-person," whose works could be neither be published nor read.

But a combination of glasnost and research by Russian literature Professor John Garrard and his wife Carol is bringing Grossman's work back into the public consciousness.

Garrard is teaching a class on the Holocaust offered through the University of Arizona history department, as well as publishing a book about Grossman that he and his wife co-authored.

The history course is being cross-offered through the Office of Judaic Studies and the Russian and Slavic languages department. This is the first semester the course will be taught by Garrard.

Leonard Dinnerstein, the acting director of Judaic Studies, said the course will cover what happened between 1933 and 1945.

"I'm sure they'll (the students) be doing some extra reading in the Russian area since that's Professor Garrard's area of expertise. But I've seen his reading list, and its much like what any other professor would use," he said.

Garrard said the class will be a little bit unusual because students will not just be reading text. They will watch documentaries, hear survivors and liberators speak, and Garrard said he will incorporate some of his own research.

He said although the class is generally on the Holocaust and does not focus specifically on the Soviet Union or Grossman, he wants to pay more attention to what happened before the concentration camps were built and used.

Garrard said approximately 1.5 million Soviet Jews were rounded up in villages, shot and then dumped into mass graves. Often the corpses were burned by the German military.

Garrard and his wife originally learned about Grossman through some friends in Moscow during the mid-1980s. He said they were interested in Grossman's work but could not talk or read about him extensively because it was still illegal.

The Garrards were able to get more information about Grossman as the Soviet Union collapsed and government files opened up.

John Garrard said his Russian friends are extremely excited about his book.

"They're thrilled and envy me and my wife, that we (have the support) to continue our work," he said.

The couple's book documenting Grossman's life and work will be published in about a year.

John Garrard said the book, titled From Stalingrad to Treblinka: Vasily Grossman Confronts the Holocaust, is a combination of Grossman's biography and some of his writings.

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