PhD Defense Anne-Lise Bobeldijk
This thesis focuses on the questions of what Maly Trostenets and Blagovshchina were, what happened there before, during and after the German occupation of Minsk, and how the history of these places was told afterwards. In both literature and memory culture, the forced labour camp Maly Trostenets and the murder site in the Blagovshchina forest, located near Minsk, are considered one and the same site of terror: 'Maly Trostenets'. Because little research has been conducted on the histories of these sites, they have remained relatively unknown to the general public.
Recent attention caused that 'Maly Trostenets' is often characterised as "the Auschwitz of Belarus" or "the Auschwitz of Austria" because of its many Austrian victims. This simplification of history has left the site misunderstood. This thesis – based on an analysis of archival material from thirteen international archives, oral history sources and observations during research trips – therefore treats the sites as parallel but entangled histories of Nazi terror in order to place them within in the context of larger patterns or schemes of the Holocaust and the history of 20th century Europe.