Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Witnesses

In a previous blog I mentioned meeting Ina Navazelskis, the Program Coordinator of Oral History at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum who has conducted hundreds of in-depth interviews with survivors and witnesses in audio and video format.

David Boder, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology was from Latvia. He traveled through DP camps in 1946 and recorded over 90 hours of testimony from 120 people from various countries including Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Jewish, Portugal. He work is available at

At a luncheon at the Feefhs conference Ina provided examples of her work. We listened to five dramatic stories from the hundreds of her interviews. Later she presented a sectional on professional interview techniques.

Ada Gens Ustjanauskas, the woman pictured on the upper left hand flyer of the flyer below, was one of the five examples. The link to her interview is posted below.

Ina encouraged us to contact anyone we knew who might have a personal experience to share. I had first thought of sending this flyer to blog one reader in Florida but then decided that it was a suitable subject for a blog post.

Later during a personal conversation Ina told me she was ¾ Lithuanian and ¼ Russian. As I came to know this soft-spoken young woman, my admiration grew as I learned of her life’s work as an advocate for those who suffered injustice and persecution during and after WWII. For over a year now, I have been putting together to story of one such Lithuanian family from records sent to me from the International Tracing Service (ITS) at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C.

A future post may outline this research.

Ina was able to zero in on the questions I had formed as I worked my way through the ITS documents. Her answers were intriguing and knowledgeable and have led me to more questions and further study.

Two of her books on the Russian leaders Brezhnez and Dubcek are available on Amazon.

Her 2012 book View from Vilnius was well-received in Lithuania.

She also knows Ruta Sepetys, author of Between the Shades of Gray, of whom I had written in an earlier post.

You may want to follow up on this oral history program and/or the records held by the International Tracing Service.

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About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
This entry was posted in Estonia, history, Latvia, Lithuania, Uncategorized, Web Sites and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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