“Warsaw. Shouldn’t I be ashamed to say it? It’s hard for me to mention it, but how many times have I wept for my home town since I left it in my exile? Today, once again, my eyes filled with tears when I listened to a detailed and extensive message from Warsaw.
Some twenty years of social activity in Warsaw. I know every stone there. Everything in me was feverish when they told me about it.
What is happening there? […]
In Warsaw, 500 people die every day. There is so much poverty and hunger that there is often nothing with which to bury the dead. The solution: the dead bodies are thrown in the street. Simply and without ceremony. […]
In Warsaw, a Yiddish newspaper of the Bund is published illegally, also a paper of Tsukunft11The youth organization of the Bund in Poland and a Tsukunft paper in Polish. Three Polish daily newspapers also appear illegally. […]
I record the news from there only because in the future, if I live to see it, I will be able to check how news reached us. It is characteristic of the situation and of the sad state we find ourselves in.
Isolated from the world and cut off from the milieu that was dear to us.”
On 23 June 1941, the German Wehrmacht occupied Vilnius. Herman Kruk (1897-1944), a Polish Jew and activist of the Bund, lives in the city since his flight from Warsaw in 1939. On 28 August 1941, when Warsaw was already occupied by the National Socialists, he chronicles his pain when he thinks about his chosen hometown Warsaw and the destruction that obliterated most parts of his former life. The diary entry points to the present absence that haunts most migratory life.
Kruk lived in Vilnius for almost four years and experienced the fate of the Jewish community under Soviet, Lithuanian, again Soviet and finally German occupation. From 1941 until 1943, he lived in the Vilna Ghetto. Kruk documented his time in Vilnius as a chronicler. In 1943, he was deported to the concentration camp Klooga nearby Tallinn where he was murdered in September 1944. Parts of his manuscripts are missing until today.
Yiddish Original (PDF): Kruk, Herman, 1961: Togbuch fun Vilner geto, New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, pp. 37f.
For English translation, see: Kruk, Herman, 2002: The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 77.