Page 157 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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Consequently, the Holocaust in Yiddish literature must be
dealt with as a research topic along three different lines:
1. The prefiguration o f the Holocaust in the interwar Yid­
dish writing.
2. Yiddish writing during the Holocaust itself; Jewish literary
creativity in the Ghettos and concentration camps.5
3. The Holocaust in post-war Yiddish literature.6
As an author whose work is linked with all three phases o f
Holocaust Yiddish literature, Grade represents a unique case.
Although he did not live under Nazi rule during the war, his
pre-war poetry on the destruction o f Jewish life and mass an­
nihilation as experienced in former times echoed his prefigu­
ration o f the contemporary Jewish fate in Europe. This poetry
o f his, when read in the Vilna Ghetto, was received as Holocaust
writings which reflected the thoughts and emotions o f the Ghet­
to inhabitants.
Following the war, Grade’s prose writings also contributed
to formulating his method o f coping with the Holocaust. He
viewed it not only as a national experience but also as a painful
personal one which was to abide with him during his entire
life.7 A detailed analysis o f Grade’s Holocaust poetry and prose
is beyond the scope o f the article and beyond what the bibli­
ographical and textological state o f our research allows. More­
over, for studying the first stage o f Yiddish Holocaust literature
we lack as yet tested tools o f analysis and the necessary termi­
nology. Although to deal with “what can happen by laws o f
necessity and probability,” as Aristotle has it, is to be loyal to
the inner core o f meaning in literature, we have no extant body
o f research on the prefiguration o f the Holocaust in Yiddish
writings. Nevertheless, regardless o f such shortcomings, we have
Grade’s own words and terminology with which to begin.
5. For a summary and survey o f Holocaust research, see Yosef Kermisz and
Yechiel Szeintuch,
Jewish Creativity in the Holocaust
(Jerusalem, Yad Vashem,
1979); Yehiel Szeintuch, “On the State o f Research: The Yiddish Literary
Creativity o f the Ghettos and Camps,”
Newsletter o f World Union of Jewish
no. 24 (Jerusalem, 1985 [Hebrew]), pp. 9-28.
6. See Elias Schulman,
The Holocaust in Yiddish Literature
(New York, Education
Department o f the Workmen’s Circle, 1983).
7. See Inna Hecker Grade’s foreword to the English edition o f
Di Mames
Shabosim (My Mother's Sabbath Days),
tr. from the Yiddish by Channe
Kleinerman Goldstein and Inna Hecker Grade (New York, Alfred A.
Knopf, 1986), pp. xi-xii, xv-xvi.