Page 204 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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A S U R V E Y A N D E V A L U A T I O N O F
Y I Z K O R B O O K S
B
y
E
l ia s
S
c h u l m a n
I
t is
sa id
that when Simon Dubnov was hurled in to a truck by
the Germans to be taken to an execution spot, he appealed
to those who were temporarily spared that they should write
down what they experienced and what they saw. A lthough the
story is probably apocryphal, it is characteristic o f the anxiety
of the survivors to record their experiences.
Emmanuel R ingelblum felt the same urgency for setting down
on paper what he saw and heard. By recording what the Germans
were doing, he hoped future generations would remember and
avenge. As a historian, he no doubt thought he was performing
a historical act by keeping a diary. But R ingelblum was not
alone in the ghettos or exterm ination camps who had a feeling
for history. There are numerous diaries, and many more un-
doubtedly were lost.
T h e feeling for recording experiences was shared by a great
many survivors. As soon as some emerged from the forest and
bunkers they began to collect material to put into written form.
In Poland after the liberation a primitive printing press was
established and the first pamphlets issued described the ghetto
incidents. Soon after the liberation by the American armies, data
were being published in the D.P. camps by the survivors. A
special journal made its appearance, entirely devoted to chroni-
cling experiences. The editors went about accumulating informa-
tion, interviewing the survivors, assembling the data, checking
and rechecking. Th e material thus gathered served as a basis for
monographs and studies.
N ot only those who lived through the Holocaust, however,
deemed it their duty to keep a diary. A great number who had
left their native towns and cities years earlier and settled in the
Un ited States, South America or Erets Israel, felt impelled to re-
count life in their former home, now that it was completely
destroyed. It was an expression of nostalgia for their youth and
of compassion for those who perished. They began not only to
record their own lives, but also to describe the customs, the
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