Words To Outlive Us

Words To Outlive Us

4.5 2
by Michal Grynberg

This collective memoir--a mosaic of individual diaries, journals, and accounts--follows the fate of the Warsaw Jews from the first bombardments of the Polish capital to the razing of the Jewish district: the frantic exchange of apartments as the walls first go up; the daily battle against starvation and disease; the moral ambiguities confronting Jewish


This collective memoir--a mosaic of individual diaries, journals, and accounts--follows the fate of the Warsaw Jews from the first bombardments of the Polish capital to the razing of the Jewish district: the frantic exchange of apartments as the walls first go up; the daily battle against starvation and disease; the moral ambiguities confronting Jewish bureaucracies under Nazi rule; the ingenuity of smugglers; and the acts of resistance. Stunning in their immediacy, these urgent accounts challenge us to imagine the unimaginable.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Tells the story in a new way, with riveting immediacy. . . The Diary of Anne Frank was a poignant solo piece for cello. Words to Outlive Us is a work of full orchestral anguish.” —Time

“One can hardly imagine anything more authentic than these testimonials.. . .One has at times an almost theatrical sense of the many narrators stepping out individually from the darkness, each telling a piece of his or her story and then stepping back again.” —Los Angeles Times

“One comes away from the book stunned by the remarkable energy and willingness to resist that so many demonstrated but haunted by the recognition of how little that resistance availed.” —The New Yorker

“A devastating portrait. . . If one can read only one book on the Warsaw Ghetto, this is it.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The heroic defense of the Warsaw Ghetto by its Jewish inhabitants in 1943 was among the most dramatic episodes of World War II. This collection renders the story of the entire saga, from the walling-off of the Ghetto in 1940 to its final destruction by the Nazis, with unprecedented vividness. Editor Michael Grynberg presents the story of the Jewish resistance through 28 never-before-published first-person accounts.
Publishers Weekly
The 29 never-before-published diaries, letters and personal accounts in the late historian Grynberg' s vital collection offer a devastating portrait of life in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1940 and 1943. Less than 1% of the almost 500,000 Jews confined there survived the disease, malnutrition and deportation to concentration camps; a handful of the contributors escaped the ghetto by navigating the sewer system to the Aryan side of Warsaw. Historian Emanuel Ringelblum' s noted journals provided an exhaustive, firsthand record of the Warsaw Ghetto, but these skillfully translated records by shopkeepers and doctors, dentists and schoolgirls are more powerful. Ghetto residents write of needing to get permission to bake matzoh, longing for the patter of autumn rain or hiding in a room with 200 stifling, hot, dirty, stinking people; two cases of full-blown tuberculosis; one of measles. Several of the diarists are members of the Jewish police, who express the agony of trying to provide for their families while collaborating with the enemy. The diversity of the contributors' cultural and economic backgrounds adds to the mural of a variegated Jewish Warsaw during Nazi occupation; mostly translated from Polish, the different voices include assimilationists, traditionalists, communists, socialists and Zionists. Some are despairing; others, like the brilliant Helena Midler, whose parodic Bunker Weekly stuck out its tongue at hardship, find ways to laugh. Many of the accounts note the meticulous planning behind the Nazis' dizzying regulations, and the editor adds relevant data, including maps and detailed rosters of laborers. If one can read only one book on the Warsaw Ghetto, this is it. (Oct. 2) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.13(d)

Meet the Author

The late Michal Grynberg, an associate of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, devoted decades of his life to compiling and publishing firsthand accounts from ghettos throughout Poland.

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Words To Outlive Us 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Rina777 More than 1 year ago
This book will shock and disturb you. It is intensely moving and terribly distressing. Words To Outlive Us is a living history with chronicles of human loss, disease, starvation, and degradation. These chronicles are unspeakable, inhuman, and indescribable.There are heart wrenching accounts of people suffering the loss of siblings, parents, and children; chilkdren torn from their mother's arms. It is a "carnival of horrors" describing shrivelled faces and empty stares of people who are alive but unable to walk;their mouths could no longer form words. You don't read this book; you live it. You can feel the emotional pain of persecution, fear, and despair. This is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Michal Grynberg's mindblowing work 'Words To Outlive Us: Eyewitness Accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto', he presents the reader with a disturbing collection of testimonies written by Jews during the infamous days of Nazi occupied Poland. The stories collected here are all true and written by Jewish people, both survivor and victim, bearing witness to the tragedies inflicted upon their community by the vicious Nazi regime. Ripped out of their homes, nearly all of their possessions, including furniture, clothes, and jewelry stolen from them--the Jews of Warsaw were forced to live in an unbearingly crowded and filthy section of the city, referred to by everyone as the 'ghetto'. Completely unprepared for the horrors the Nazis had in store for them, many Jewish families kept hoping that the inevitable was untrue. Some still felt that the Germans couldn't possibly slaughter innocent people. But account after heartbreaking account testifies that that was exactly what they did. Men, women, the elderly, and even young children and babies were massacred in the most brutal of ways. Mothers had their children shot in front of their very eyes and whole families were sent to their deaths from a train station called 'Umschlangplatz' to the dreaded Treblinka and other concentration camps. The stories collected in this volume were written by Jewish people who before the war, came from a wide variety of professions and family backgrounds, but because of the Nazis, were joined with each other in a common struggle amidst the starvation and terror that was the Warsaw ghetto. From a young woman hiding in a bunker during the raging years of the war, trying to allay her misery with the written word and satire in the form of a weekly 'newsletter', to a haunted father distraught over the loss of his beloved wife and daughter to the death camps, these stories have been written by a people that witnessed the worst bestiality of modern times and determined throughout their struggle, to put down their experiences on paper for the world to one day discover. Completely stripped of their rights, the Jews of Warsaw were desperate for any work at all and proper documentation in order that their lives would be spared. Factories were set up to benefit the German war cause that employed the Jews of the ghetto, and the stories tell of the desperation of the average Jewish person to find at least, a fairly decent factory to work in, that as the Nazis routinely said, would spare them from the feared deportations. Lie after lie would be told to the Jews by the Nazis, that they would be 'resettled' to a different region and would work peacefully until the end of the war. This would always result in being transported to the death camps. In just one example such as the 'Hotel Polski' disaster, Jews were put up at a local hotel and given papers to safe countries to emigrate to, such as Latin America, France, and even America. Overjoyed at what they thought was a chance to escape, they rapidly discovered all too late that these promises were nothing but ploys to send them unknowingly to their deaths in the concentration camps. The Jews of the ghetto quickly learned never to believe the false promises of their German oppressors, and the vast majority began to build underground bunkers and various hiding places. A good deal of them even managed to escape beyond their confines to what was called the 'Aryan side' and live under assumed identities. Tragically, there were many more who never escaped. I felt when reading this book, that it was especially heart-breaking to know the names and personal histories of the Jews who experienced this unbelievable slaughter. These were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives who saw first hand the virulent evil human beings can perpetrate against each other. Their lives are inspirational and tragic--both terrifying and victorious. For the common thread these people had, both survivor and victim alike, was a special spiri