In this moving memoir, a young Polish Jew chronicles his life under the Nazis. In the vain hope of protecting himself and his family, Calel Perechodnik made the wrenching decision to become a ghetto policeman in a small town near Warsaw. The true tragedy of his choice becomes clear when during the Aktion he must witness his own wife and child forced to board a train to the Treblinka extermination camp. Filled with loathing for the Germans, the Poles, his Jewish brethren, and himself, Perechodnik fled the ghetto to shelter with a Polish woman in Warsaw. In the course of 105 terror-filled days in hiding, he poured out his poignant story. Written while Nazi boots pounded the streets of the neighborhood and while his tortured memory was painfully fresh, this memoir has a rare immediacy and raw power. Shortly before his death in 1944, he entrusted the precious diary to a Polish friend. The document was eventually deposited in the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem. Left nearly forgotten for half a century, it was finally published in Poland in 1993. We owe a great debt to historian Frank Fox for bringing us this sensitive translation, which reminds us anew of the power and truth of historical memory.
Table of Contents
Foreword -- Preface -- War -- The Aktion -- After the Aktion -- The Camp -- Warsaw -- Conclusion -- The Last Days of Calek Perechodnik -- Letter to Pesach Perechodnik from Henryk Romanowski -- Last Will and Testament of Calel Perechodnik -- Afterword (from the Polish Edition)