Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust

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New Haven, CT 2002 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 437 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: Young adult. Hardcover in ... dust jacket, Fine/Fine Condition (Beautiful, brand new book! ), Backroom. Read more Show Less

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Overview

This never-before-published collection of autobiographies written by young Polish Jews in the 1930s is extraordinary. Their candid and passionate writings not only reveal the personal struggles, ambitions, and dreams of fifteen young authors, they also offer remarkable insight into the nature of ordinary Jewish life in Poland during the years between the world wars. Later authors often view this moment through lenses tinted by nostalgia or horror. But these young writers, unaware of the catastrophic future, tell their life stories with the urgency and fervor of adolescents, coming of age during a period of manifold new opportunities and challenges.

The autobiographies presented in the volume are selected from hundreds that were written for contests in the 1930s conducted by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, then based in Vilna. Nine male and six female authors write from a variety of circumstances that reflect the great diversity of interwar Polish Jewry -- some of the authors are ardently secular, and others devoutly religious; some are impoverished and others come from the working class or middle class; some are highly educated, and others self-taught. They come from big cities, small towns, and villages; they are Zionists, Bundists, communists; they espouse multiple political affiliations or none at all. Taking up the unusual task of writing an autobiography at the threshold of adulthood, these young authors also display different personalities, writing styles, and views of life. Originally written for a pioneering research project that hoped to address the challenges facing Polish Jewish youth, their words now speak across the chasm of history, providing unique testimony on Jewish life in the final years before the Holocaust.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300092776
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Introduction xi
Editor's note xliii
1914-1939: A chronology xlv
Map of Interwar Poland lii
The Autobiographies
1. S. Etonis 3
Invasions during the World War
Traditional kheyder vs. progressive shule
Mother's death
Smuggling goods at the Russian border
Yeshiva
Homesickness
Studying musar
A heretical friend
Reading forbidden literature
Self-education for gymnasium
Work as a teacher
2. Khane 20
Feuding parents
Divorce
Homeless wandering
Life in an abandoned fortress
Feuding sisters
A mother's beating
Work in a bindery
Learning to read
Illegal political activism
Stealing across the border
Working in Vilna
Mother's death
3. A. Greyno 51
A poor family
Learning to read from Father
Move to a city
Failed business ventures
Sexual awakening
Learning to sew
An anti-Semitic landlord
A murdered child? A special friend
Trade unionism
A revolutionary meeting on Yom Kippur
Esperanto
Political trials
Becoming a librarian
Arrest, torture and prison
Jean Christophe
4. Henekh 113
Father's death
Yeshivas in Grodno and Radun
Corruption in yeshiva
Discovering secular literature
An unsuccessful love affair
Arson
Trapped in marriage to a rabbi's daughter
Contemplating suicide
5. Forget-me-not 123
Parental squabbles
A Jewish public school
Desecrating the Sabbath
Mother's early death
Joining an illegal political party
Life in a day orphanage
Chronic illness and a TOZ sanatorium
Working in a pharmacy
A dwindling family
Political disillusionment
Trade union activism
6. Ludwik Stockel 141
The Russians attack
Saved by a nursemaid
Life on a rural estate
The local Polish public school
Gymnasium in Czortkow
Writing poetry
Summer romance
A school trip
A bicycle race
Unrequited love
A socialist and a Zionist
Law school in Lwow
Anti-Semitic violence
7. Hanzi 197
A pious mother, an intellectual father
Living with Grandmother
A religious upbringing
A rare eye disease
Blessing from the Hafetz Hayyim
Tarbut gymnasium in Vilna
Stealing books
A member of Betar
A leg infection
A nurse from Siberia
A Zionist hero
8. The Stormer 226
Kheyder
Father's death
Moving to Lodz
Public school
Yeshiva
Sex among yeshiva students
Political awakening
A revolutionary cell
Factory work
Gordonia
Illegal emigration to Palestine
Life on the road
Stealing across the border
Capture and imprisonment
Return home
9. G. S. 263
Life on a rural estate
Public school
Betar
Attending commercial school
Relations between Poles and Jews
Life on hakhsharah
Failed aspirations
Work as a governess
10. EM.TEPA 275
An intellectual proletarian father
Mother's mental illness
Kheyder vs. public school
Studying the violin
Gymnasium
Work as a musician
Economic woes
11. G. W. 296
A shoemaker's son
Life in a small town
Kheyder
The family moves
Illness and recovery
Public school
A tailor's apprentice
Bundist youth movements
Normal family life
12. Esther 321
A hasidic family
Beys Yaakov school and Polish public school
Polish patriotism
Membership in Bnos Agudas Yisroel
A secret reader
Running a Beys Yaakov school
A forbidden friendship
Provincial anti-Semitism
Discovering socialism
13. J. Harefuler 344
Inferiority complexes
Kheyder and progressive Jewish elementary school
Mother's death
Stepmother
Work as a shoemaker
A frustrated actor's death
Communism
Camping trips
The Joint Distribution Committee
A Jewish citizen in Poland
14. Eter 380
A rabbi's daughter
Polish elementary school
A community feud
The commercial gymnasium
Work as a tutor
Self-education
Zionist politics
A poem by Julian Tuwim
15. Yudl 391
A poor family
Delivering milk
Public school
Street life
Shady dealings in a dye factory
A bootmaker's apprentice
A trip to Lodz
Betar, then the Bund
Leading a successful strike
Epilogue 404
Endnotes 406
Appendix I Personalities 423
Appendix II Organizations 430
Glossary 434
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