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 with my own eyes – and it was there at the National Archives that I learned for the very first time about my uncle’s many official trips for the government to the former so called Occupied Territories of the East. And I slowly began to grasp the meaning behind (t)his cryptic sounding official title Stellvertretender Leiter des freiwilligen Europäischen Sondereinsatzes in den besetzten Ostgebieten (Deputy Head of the Voluntary European Special Mission in the Occupied Territories of the East).

There are plenty of documented trips my uncle made for the government of the 3. Reich from Berlin to the Baltics, White Russia and Ukraine between 1942-1944 with the intention to implement structures for the settlement of Dutch farmers and craftsmen, to be followed by settlers from Denmark, Belgium and France. All this while the Jewish population of these occcupied countries already had been or still was in the process of being murdered by the Nazis.

And it was back then in D.C. when I discovered the book Heroism and Bravery in Lithuania 1941-1944 in which Alex Faitelson speaks about the Jewish Resistance in Kaunas and the legendary mass escape from the Fort he inspired, organised and made it succeed.

Burkhard von Harder, 2009

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