Page 230 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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“Szajkowski records what appears to be every nook and hamlet
where Jews resided in France, voluntarily and involuntarily,
between 1939 and 1945. Hence the name
He presents
demographic as well as geographic data. His modest ‘Introduc­
tion to Some Problems in Writing the History of the Jews in
France during World War I I ’ brings out many pertinent lessons
for the historian.
“Because of the lack of time, I will concentrate on a few points.
“Let us take, for example, the problem of the
are apt to forget the principal fact that the Germans would deal
only with Jewish community representatives and not with indi­
vidual Jews. There was no choice. Szajkowski traces minutely
the history of the French version of the
“A second point: We live in an age of unbalanced integration
in the Jewish and general culture, with an educational lag in
Jewish background that makes the Jews perhaps the most cultur­
ally underprivileged group in American life. Jewishly decultured
Jews have lost the meaning of religious convictions and with it
the appreciation of the significance of
kiddush hashem
for the
sake of profound religious faith. Resistance has many forms. In
defending their own honor, Jews employed guns, pistols, dyna­
mite, whenever they could obtain them. However, the desire to
live, to endure come what may, was also an assertion of faith and
required perhaps even greater bravery than physical defense that
usually brought quick death. Szajkowski presents many examples
of the willingness of pious Jews to carry out the principles of
their faith, regardless of consequences.
“An important writer on the Catastrophe whose word is prac­
tically law among the intellectuals, made the statement that,
unlike some Catholic and Protestant clergymen who went to the
camps to share the plight of the victims, rabbis did not join their
flocks upon the deportations. Szajkowski lists 170 deputy rabbis
in labor and concentration camps, almost all of whom volunteered
for their jobs and were deported.
“Born in Poland, Szajkowski lived in France from 1927 to 1941.
There he was a worker active in the labor movement, and began
his historical researches. He was wounded as a volunteer in the
French army. He smuggled from France to New York the archives
of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, including the Dub-
now, Schwartzbard, and Tcherikower collections. He came here
in September
and joined the United States Army as a para­
trooper in the famous AA 82nd Airborne Division. While sta­
tioned in Berlin, he enriched the YIVO archives with many books