Self-help of Jews in Vilnius. Alternatives to Philantropy and “Culture of Welcoming”

Jewish welfare has always been deeply rooted in Jewish community structures (kehillot) in Eastern Europe. In the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, the traditional forms underwent a fundamental change due to the increasingly precarious economic situation and the deterioration of the legal status of the Jewish population. New actors transformed the system from one that focused on the short-sighted improvement of symptoms to one that addressed structural local causes and was based on community interaction. 11E.g. Löwe, Heinz-Dietrich, 1997: From charity to social policy: The emergence of Jewish ‘self-help’ organizations in imperial Russia, 1800–1914, pp. 53–75 in: East European Jewish Affairs 27 (2); Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Organizing the Community. Self-help and Relief, pp. 90–144 in: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. This “help for self-help” 22Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 147. became a fundamental part of Jewish communities, such as in Vilnius. It was used during World War I and the Russian Civil War to support Jewish war refugees and became a crucial means of Jewish resistance in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. 33E.g. Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Organizing the Community. Self-help and Relief, pp. 90–144 in: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press; Schulz, Miriam, 2016: Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees. Berlin: Metropol. As an alternative to philanthropy and “welcome culture,” it can serve as a roadmap for inclusive refugee self-help beyond ethnic, ethnicizing and racial divisions.

    Footnotes

  • 1E.g. Löwe, Heinz-Dietrich, 1997: From charity to social policy: The emergence of Jewish ‘self-help’ organizations in imperial Russia, 1800–1914, pp. 53–75 in: East European Jewish Affairs 27 (2); Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Organizing the Community. Self-help and Relief, pp. 90–144 in: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • 2Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 147.
  • 3E.g. Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Organizing the Community. Self-help and Relief, pp. 90–144 in: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press; Schulz, Miriam, 2016: Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees. Berlin: Metropol.

Between 27 and 30 October 1938, approximately 16,000 Jews with Polish passports were rounded up and deported from their German homes to the Polish border. With the so-called “Poland Action,” National Socialist Germany reacted to the amendment to the law initiated by the Polish parliament in March 1938, which provided for the withdrawal of citizenship from Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years, thus declaring them stateless. On the Polish side, this was intended to forestall the mass expulsion to Poland of Jewish women and men living in the German Reich, which was expected after the annexation of Austria. The deportation trains were refused entry at the Polish border. The border town Zbąszyń thus became an ad hoc refugee camp.

Among the deportees were Sendel and Rifka Grynszpan from Hannover together with two of their three children. Their third child Heshel was living in Paris at that time. In protest, the latter shot the German diplomat Ernst von Roth in the German embassy in Paris on 7 November 1939. The German Ministry of Propaganda lost no time and used Grynspan’s act of political outcry and personal self-defense as an excuse to terrorize the Jewish population in the November pogroms on November 9/10, 1938, in a manner unprecedented to that date. [For the November Progroms 1938, see Steinweis, Alan E., 2009: Kristallnacht 1938; Cambridge: Harvard University Press; Garbarini, Alexandria/Kerenji, Emil/Lambertz, Jan Patt, Avinoam, 2011: Jewish Responses to Persecution, Vol. II, 1938-194; Lanham: AltaMira, pp. 3-6; Gilbert, Martin, 2006: Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction. New York: HarperCollins]

At the same time, Polish Jewish aid organizations mobilized all available resources and conducted fundraising campaigns for the Jewish refugees stuck in Zbąszyń and thereby collected a total of 3.5 million Złoty (1938: $ 700,000), blankets, clothing, and other food within a very short time. The TOZ, CENTOS (Central Office of the Society for the Care of Orphaned and Abandoned Children (Centrala Związku Towarzystw Opieki nad Sierotami i Dziećmi Opuszczonymi)) and the Warsaw branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (Joint) [5th Bauer, Yehuda, 1981: American Jewry and the Holocaust. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1939-1945. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, pp. 21-25.], headed by Yitskhok Giterman 66Yitskhok Giterman (1889-1943) was director of the Joint in Poland from 1926–1923. After fleeing from Poland in 1939, he returned in 1940 and continued to lead the Joint’s operations. After the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto, he championed the interests of its inhabitants and also supported underground resistance groups. He was murdered by SS soldiers in 1943. Cf. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Yitzhak Gitterman, in USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/yitzhak-gitterman (17.10.2019) and Emanuel Ringelblum 77Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944) was a Jewish-Polish historian, political activist, aid worker and director and chronicler of the secret Warsaw Ghetto Archives. As a historian, he was mainly concerned with the history of Polish Jews, especially in Warsaw. In researching their history – and thus their historical participation in Polish society – Ringelblum also wanted to strengthen the political integration of Polish Jews. He was also involved in Yiddish cultural associations. During the Second World War Ringelblum worked for Jewish aid organizations. In particular, he founded a secret archive in 1940 to document life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Until his assassination by the Nazis in 1944, Ringelblum continued to write historical works that also documented the extermination of the Jewish population of Poland during the Second World War. See Kassow, Samuel: Ringelblum, Emanuel, in: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Ringelblum_Emanuel (17.10.2019). The Joint had been founded in November 1914 as an aid organisation to support Jewish victims of the First World War, and even before the Second World War it had a long list of aid measures for European Jews. 88About Zbąszyń, see Alina Bothe/Gertrud Pikhan (ed.), 2018: Expelled! Berlin, 28. 10.1938: The history of the “Poland Action”. Berlin: Metropol; Alexandria Garbarini/Emil Kerenji/Jan Lambertz/Avinoam Patt (ed.), 2011: Jewish Responses to Persecution, Vol. II, 1938-1940; Lanham: AltaMira, pp. 3-7; Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Chapter 4: Organizing the Community. Self-help and Relief, pp. 90-144 in: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

If the measures described so far still seem to be in the field of rather traditional refugee assistance, it was in particular the work of the Joint in Zbąszyń itself that uniquely combined the principle of Jewish help for self-help with help for refugees and transformed Zbąszyń from a camp into a city. Their activities are a pioneering example of self-help for Jews during the Holocaust, but also provide a directive for models of self-help for refugees today.

Dear Raphael 99Raphael Mahler (1899-1977) was a Polish Jewish historian. Together with Emanuel Ringelblum he founded the Circle of Young Jewish Historians, which eventually affiliated with the History Department of the Yidishn visnshaftlekhn Institut (YIVO). He was actively involved as a researcher and editor of the Institute’s own journal. As a historian, he published his historical studies in Yiddish, Polish, German, Hebrew and English. His major work Divre yeme Yisra’el: Dorot aḥaronim (History of the Jewish People in Modern Times; 1952-1979) is unfinished with seven published volumes and is available in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. In 1937 Mahler emigrated to the United States, where he taught at YIVO and the Jewish Teachers’ College in New York. In 1950 he moved on to Israel, where his work was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 1977,

I am now at Środborów to rest. I have worked for five weeks in Zbąszyń. […] During these five weeks, we (originally Giterman 1010Yitskhok Giterman (1889-1943) was director of the Joint in Poland from 1926-1923. After fleeing from Poland in 1939, he returned in 1940 and continued to lead the Joint’s operations. After the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto, he championed the interests of its inhabitants and also supported underground resistance groups. He was murdered by SS soldiers in 1943. See United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Yitzhak Gitterman, in USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/yitzhak-gitterman (17.10.2019), Ginzberg and me, and after ten days then me and Ginzberg) built up a whole city community with supply departments, medical care, carpentries, tailors, shoemakers, books, with a legal department, a migration office and our own post office (with 53 employees), a welfare office, an arbitration court, with an organizing committee and a secret control service, a cleaning service and comprehensive sanitary facilities, etc. […] The most important thing is that this is not a situation where some give and others receive. The refugees see us as their brothers who have come to help them in times of need and tragedy. Almost all responsible tasks are taken over by refugees. […] There is no mouldy spirit of philanthropy here that could have so easily crept into our work. […] No one was humiliated. […]

Please accept my warmest good wishes and kisses,

Emanuel 1111Document 1-1: Letter from Emanuel Ringelblum, Środborów, Poland, to Raphael Mahler, New York City, 6 December 1938, Moreshet Mordechai Anielevich Memorial Archive D.1.4927 (original in Yiddish) translated here from English into: Alexandria Garbarini/Emil Kerenji/Jan Lambertz/Avinoam Patt (eds.), 2011. Jewish Responses to Persecution, Vol. II, 1938-1940. Lanham: AltaMira, pp. 6-7.
Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944) was a Jewish-Polish historian, political activist, aid worker and director and chronicler of the secret Warsaw Ghetto Archives. As a historian, he was mainly concerned with the history of Polish Jews, especially in Warsaw. In researching their history – and thus their historical participation in Polish society – Ringelblum also wanted to strengthen the political integration of Polish Jews. He was also involved in Yiddish cultural associations. During the Second World War Ringelblum worked for Jewish aid organizations. In particular, he founded a secret archive in 1940 to document life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Until his assassination by the Nazis in 1944, Ringelblum continued to write historical works that also documented the extermination of the Jewish population of Poland during the Second World War. See Kassow, Samuel: Ringelblum, Emanuel, in: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Ringelblum_Emanuel (17.10.2019)
.

Less than a year later, when the outbreak of the Second World War triggered a veritable mass exodus to the East and led to a humanitarian crisis of unknown proportions, Jewish aid activities were faced with completely new challenges. But it was possible to draw on earlier experiences. This was also the case in Vilnius.

The great activities in the field of refugee aid began after Vilnius was transferred to Lithuania and with the arrival of over 2000 German displaced persons from the Suwałki region, the so-called “no man’s land.” These refugees, who arrived naked, tormented, lousy and dirty after having dragged themselves over fields and peat pits for a long time, were given permission by the authorities to stay in Lithuania temporarily. This is why our “health house” [TOZ-OZE] was transformed into a center for refugee assistance. 1212Kruk, Herman, 1940: Vos OZE tut far di pleytim, pp. 14-15 in: Folksgezunt. Ilustrtrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higene un meditsin 4 (April 1940), pp. 14-15.

In Vilnius there were a number of Jewish aid organisations that took care of the plight of the refugees immediately from September 1939 and relied on inner-Jewish cooperation. Also here, TOZ-OZE was one of the first organization to help. TOZ refers to the so-called “Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population in Poland,” founded in Warsaw in 1921. In contrast, the name of the Lithuanian equivalent, which was also founded in 1921, followed the name of the Russian parent company OZE. In Vilnius, which was fought over by Poland and Lithuania, both names were therefore in circulation in 1939. Even their own magazine Folksgezunt: Ilustrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higyene un meditsin (Public Health. Illustrated Popular Scientific Journal of Hygiene and Medicine), which was the first Jewish journal to be published in Lithuanian Vilnius, constantly switched between the designations TOZ and OZE. In addition to TOZ-OZE, there had also been an offshoot of the “Society for Handicraft and Agricultural Work among the Jews of Russia” (ORT) since 1918, which in the first half of 1940 alone supported 5,000 people with work, aid and food in cooperation with OZE. [13. ORT in Vilnius [website created by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum], ortinlithuania.ort.org/ort_in_vilnius.htm [10.9.2019].

Both TOZ-OZE and ORT again received strong financial support from the aforementioned Joint, which had already provided three million Litas between 1 August 1939 and 1 July 1940. When Lithuania’s neutrality became apparent in September 1939, the Joint did not hesitate for long to fill the potentially secure post with personnel.

International pressure as well as a “lucrative” agreement on international refugee assistance prompted Lithuania to ease its refugee policy. The rather unorganised network of Jewish and non-Jewish aid organisations was to be centralized in the hands of the Lithuanian Red Cross under the Refugee Law of 20 January 1940, but this initially met mistrust and rejection from the Jewish side, as it was not clear that the support would actually reach Jews in need of help. Negotiations then led to the creation of a “Lay Committee for Assistance to Refugees,” under which all Jewish aid organisations were merged. This committee functioned both as part of the kehillah (Jewish community organisation) in Vilnius and as one of five sub-committees of the Lithuanian Red Cross, which in turn was financed mainly by foreign donors, but also by the Lithuanian state treasury. In the four months between November 1939 and March 1940, the Jewish refugee aid organizations achieved so much that Herman Kruk 1414Herman Kruk (1897-1944), Polish librarian and activist of the General Union of Jewish Workers in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia (short: Bund) fled from his home town Warsaw to Vilnius in 1939 in view of the immanent danger of the approaching Wehrmacht. He lived there for almost four years and experienced the fate of the Jewish community under Soviet, Lithuanian, again Soviet and finally German occupation. From 1941 to 1943 he lived in the Vilnius Ghetto. Kruk documented his time in Vilnius as a chronicler. In 1943 Kruk was deported to the concentration camp Klooga near Tallinn, where he was murdered in September 1944. could proudly state the following in the March 1940 issue of Folksgezunt:

We can already say that thanks to the Committee for Assistance to Refugees of the Jewish Community of Vilnius, thanks to the financial support of the “Joint,” thanks to the cooperation of the TOZ in the field of health care – there is not a single hungry Jewish refugee in Vilnius, every refugee has an address where he can come and register his needs and where he can get clothing, housing assistance, medical care, legal assistance and, if necessary, professional training etc. 1515Kruk, Hermann, April 1940: Pleytim (2ter reportazsh), pp. 11–13 in: Folksgezunt: Ilustrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higyene un meditsin 4, p. 11.

Herman Kruk’s appreciation of TOZ-OZE’s activities was justified. This aid organisation provided numerous refugees not only with shelter but also with medical care. However, his songs of praise should be read with a grain of salt, albeit a benevolent one, that the magazine in which Kruk published his report “Pleytim” [Refugees] was the central organ of OZE, and thus one can hardly speak of objectivity. And also the leap towards self-help was still missing.

“The refugees in Vilnius have already had smallpox and measles,” one refugees said to me, “and yet they still cannot stand on their own feet. To go through the childhood diseases of a refugee is peanuts!” “Only when we can get back on our own two feet,” he continued, “will the real, the ‘nastoyashtshe’ [from Russian: real, true, bodily] (imitating certain Vilnius Jews) refugee worries begin.” There is a lot of truth in this: Every refugee has already settled in to some extent, found a roof over his head, got some clothes, had lunch in an auxiliary kitchen, participated in the second round of registration… The refugee’s teething troubles are far from over and he is far from standing on his own feet. 1515Kruk, Hermann, April 1940: Pleytim (2nd reportazsh), pp. 11-13 in: Folksgezunt: Ilustrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higyene un meditsin 4, pp. 11.

With the end of the teething troubles the seriousness of life begins. Helping people to help themselves would be the answer for many. Among other things, TOZ-OZE set up the sanitary and medical facilities in such a way that refugee doctors and nurses managed the aid points for them, which, according to TOZ-OZE, “is of great importance from a psychological and hygienic point of view [for the refugees]”. 1616Kruk, Herman, 1940: Vos OZE tut far di pleytim, pp. 14-15 in: Folksgezunt. Ilustrtrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higene un meditsin 4 (April 1940), p. 15.

The Joint on the other side resumed its work from Zbąszyń, also in terms of personnel. Yitskhok Giterman 1717Yitskhok Giterman (1889-1943) was director of the Joint in Poland from 1926-1923. After fleeing from Poland in 1939, he returned in 1940 and continued to lead the Joint’s operations. After the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto, he stood up for the interests of its inhabitants and also supported underground resistance groups. He was murdered by SS soldiers in 1943. Cf. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Yitzhak Gitterman, in USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/yitzhak-gitterman (17.10.2019), who had led the relief work there in 1938, had also fled to Vilnius in 1939 and, together with his colleague Moses Beckelman, took on the refugee situation in Vilnius with tremendous determination. Their financial and moral support was an essential component that led to the establishment of the first Jewish historical commission documenting crimes committed by Germany against the Jewish population of Poland, the Vilnius Committee.

When in October 1939 a large number of representatives of the Polish Jewish intelligentsia arrived from Poland in Vilnius for the time being, the first step was to provide them with a communal accommodation provided by TOZ-OZE. The second step took place in November 1939, when Moses Beckelman requested financial support for a “working aid project for Jewish journalists” from the New York headquarters of the Joint, “to collect the testimony of witnesses about the evacuation from Warsaw, the destruction of cities and the flight from Poland and process it into report form.”

Through the financial support of the Joint, the stateless journalists were now given a responsible job that not only cured the “teething troubles” of passivity and helplessness, but also made them extremely important actors within the Jewish refugee community in Vilnius. It was felt that the fate of the entire nation depended on the implementation of this task. However, the work of the committee not only strengthened the morale of the members themselves. It had a reciprocal effect: all its activities were based on eyewitness accounts of Jewish refugees. They not only gave the refugees a voice and strengthened their self-esteem. They made them authors of their own story. 1818For the history of the committee, see Schulz, Miriam, 2016: Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees. Berlin: Metropol. (http://metropol-verlag.de/produkt/miriam-schulz-der-beginn-des-untergangs/).

    Footnotes

  • 6Yitskhok Giterman (1889-1943) was director of the Joint in Poland from 1926–1923. After fleeing from Poland in 1939, he returned in 1940 and continued to lead the Joint’s operations. After the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto, he championed the interests of its inhabitants and also supported underground resistance groups. He was murdered by SS soldiers in 1943. Cf. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Yitzhak Gitterman, in USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/yitzhak-gitterman (17.10.2019)
  • 7Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944) was a Jewish-Polish historian, political activist, aid worker and director and chronicler of the secret Warsaw Ghetto Archives. As a historian, he was mainly concerned with the history of Polish Jews, especially in Warsaw. In researching their history – and thus their historical participation in Polish society – Ringelblum also wanted to strengthen the political integration of Polish Jews. He was also involved in Yiddish cultural associations. During the Second World War Ringelblum worked for Jewish aid organizations. In particular, he founded a secret archive in 1940 to document life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Until his assassination by the Nazis in 1944, Ringelblum continued to write historical works that also documented the extermination of the Jewish population of Poland during the Second World War. See Kassow, Samuel: Ringelblum, Emanuel, in: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Ringelblum_Emanuel (17.10.2019)
  • 8About Zbąszyń, see Alina Bothe/Gertrud Pikhan (ed.), 2018: Expelled! Berlin, 28. 10.1938: The history of the “Poland Action”. Berlin: Metropol; Alexandria Garbarini/Emil Kerenji/Jan Lambertz/Avinoam Patt (ed.), 2011: Jewish Responses to Persecution, Vol. II, 1938-1940; Lanham: AltaMira, pp. 3-7; Kassow, Samuel, 2007: Chapter 4: Organizing the Community. Self-help and Relief, pp. 90-144 in: Who will write our history? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • 9Raphael Mahler (1899-1977) was a Polish Jewish historian. Together with Emanuel Ringelblum he founded the Circle of Young Jewish Historians, which eventually affiliated with the History Department of the Yidishn visnshaftlekhn Institut (YIVO). He was actively involved as a researcher and editor of the Institute’s own journal. As a historian, he published his historical studies in Yiddish, Polish, German, Hebrew and English. His major work Divre yeme Yisra’el: Dorot aḥaronim (History of the Jewish People in Modern Times; 1952-1979) is unfinished with seven published volumes and is available in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. In 1937 Mahler emigrated to the United States, where he taught at YIVO and the Jewish Teachers’ College in New York. In 1950 he moved on to Israel, where his work was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 1977
  • 10Yitskhok Giterman (1889-1943) was director of the Joint in Poland from 1926-1923. After fleeing from Poland in 1939, he returned in 1940 and continued to lead the Joint’s operations. After the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto, he championed the interests of its inhabitants and also supported underground resistance groups. He was murdered by SS soldiers in 1943. See United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Yitzhak Gitterman, in USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/yitzhak-gitterman (17.10.2019)
  • 11Document 1-1: Letter from Emanuel Ringelblum, Środborów, Poland, to Raphael Mahler, New York City, 6 December 1938, Moreshet Mordechai Anielevich Memorial Archive D.1.4927 (original in Yiddish) translated here from English into: Alexandria Garbarini/Emil Kerenji/Jan Lambertz/Avinoam Patt (eds.), 2011. Jewish Responses to Persecution, Vol. II, 1938-1940. Lanham: AltaMira, pp. 6-7.
    Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944) was a Jewish-Polish historian, political activist, aid worker and director and chronicler of the secret Warsaw Ghetto Archives. As a historian, he was mainly concerned with the history of Polish Jews, especially in Warsaw. In researching their history – and thus their historical participation in Polish society – Ringelblum also wanted to strengthen the political integration of Polish Jews. He was also involved in Yiddish cultural associations. During the Second World War Ringelblum worked for Jewish aid organizations. In particular, he founded a secret archive in 1940 to document life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Until his assassination by the Nazis in 1944, Ringelblum continued to write historical works that also documented the extermination of the Jewish population of Poland during the Second World War. See Kassow, Samuel: Ringelblum, Emanuel, in: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Ringelblum_Emanuel (17.10.2019)
  • 12Kruk, Herman, 1940: Vos OZE tut far di pleytim, pp. 14-15 in: Folksgezunt. Ilustrtrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higene un meditsin 4 (April 1940), pp. 14-15.
  • 14Herman Kruk (1897-1944), Polish librarian and activist of the General Union of Jewish Workers in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia (short: Bund) fled from his home town Warsaw to Vilnius in 1939 in view of the immanent danger of the approaching Wehrmacht. He lived there for almost four years and experienced the fate of the Jewish community under Soviet, Lithuanian, again Soviet and finally German occupation. From 1941 to 1943 he lived in the Vilnius Ghetto. Kruk documented his time in Vilnius as a chronicler. In 1943 Kruk was deported to the concentration camp Klooga near Tallinn, where he was murdered in September 1944.
  • 15Kruk, Hermann, April 1940: Pleytim (2nd reportazsh), pp. 11-13 in: Folksgezunt: Ilustrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higyene un meditsin 4, pp. 11.
  • 16Kruk, Herman, 1940: Vos OZE tut far di pleytim, pp. 14-15 in: Folksgezunt. Ilustrtrirter populer-visnshaftlekher zshurnal far higene un meditsin 4 (April 1940), p. 15
  • 17Yitskhok Giterman (1889-1943) was director of the Joint in Poland from 1926-1923. After fleeing from Poland in 1939, he returned in 1940 and continued to lead the Joint’s operations. After the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto, he stood up for the interests of its inhabitants and also supported underground resistance groups. He was murdered by SS soldiers in 1943. Cf. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Yitzhak Gitterman, in USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/yitzhak-gitterman (17.10.2019)
  • 18For the history of the committee, see Schulz, Miriam, 2016: Der Beginn des Untergangs. Die Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinden in Polen und das Vermächtnis des Wilnaer Komitees. Berlin: Metropol. (http://metropol-verlag.de/produkt/miriam-schulz-der-beginn-des-untergangs/).
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