The Writings of Yitshak Rudashevsky and Matilda Olkinaite: Holocaust Testimonies in the Digital Age With Mindaugas Kvietkauskas

Feb 21, 2024 | 7.00 pm

Yitzhok Rudashevsky (1927–1943) and Matilda Olnikaitė (1922–1941) were still in their teens when they were murdered. They both left behind writings that convey a great deal to readers about the Holocaust—as well as about what was lost in it.

Rudashevsky experienced the German occupation during World War II in the Vilnius  ghetto, which was established in 1941. His diary, written in Yiddish, is a record of what was happening before his eyes. It describes the daily threat to his own life posed by the Nazis as well as a wide range of cultural activities in the ghetto. The diary has only been available in German translation since 2020. Olnikaitė got involved with literature as a child: her poems in Lithuanian brought her to prominence in her hometown in northeast Lithuania. The poems—along with a diary that has entries until shortly before her murder—were kept hidden and have been preserved as a result for posterity. They are not yet available in German.

Mindaugas Kvietkauskas has published Matilda Olnikaitė’s poems and translated Rudashevsky’s diary into Lithuanian. His work provides an insight into Rudashevsky’s and Olnikaitė’s lifeworlds. He will also make the first presentation in Germany of the digital exhibition compiled by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s Online Museum, which showcases Rudashevsky’s life and writing. The exhibition will open at the beginning of 2024. 

Kvietkauskas is a literary scholar, translator, and poet. He was Lithuanian Minister of Culture between 2019 and 2020; since 2023, he has been dean of the Faculty of Philology at Vilnius University. Please note that the event will take place in English.

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