What kind of impact do you think her stay in Vilnius had on Lucy Dawidowicz?
Lucy Dawidowicz became an historian and wrote several books about modern Jewish history, especially about the Holocaust and the Second World War. She was marked for the rest of her life by her stay in Vilnius and what she had seen of the Eastern European Jewish culture that almost completely disappeared during the Second World War and was never the same again. During the war, several of the people she had connected with in Vilnius were killed.
When she stayed in Europe after the war, Lucy Dawidowicz helped not only to sort books and papers, but also to re-establish Jewish cultural centres and educational institutions in Europe.
In her memoir, From that Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938-1947, Lucy Dawidowicz wrote of her time at the Offenbach Archival Depot where she went through reams and reams of paper:
“But after a day’s delving into the very bowels of the Vilnius YIVO’s past, I was exhausted, drained of feeling. I wiped away my tears and went back to my hotel room. I had come to see that Vilnius had been reduced to fragments of paper and fragments of memory. I knew that whatever I rescued from oblivion was all that could ever be rescued from the ruins of Vilnius. I knew that I had completed the mission I’d imposed on myself.”