TABLE OF CONTENTS
Konrad Elkana Charmatz
Nightmares: Memoirs of the Years
of Horror Under Nazi Rule in Europe, 1939-1945
Translated from the Yiddish
Miriam Dashkin Beckerman
published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
Copyright © The family of the late
Copyright © English translation Miriam Dashkin Beckerman, 2000
Konrad Elkana Charmatz (1910-1986) survived
wartime imprisonment in several concentration and work camps to
become a noted Yiddish journalist and broadcaster on radio and television
in Paris and later in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Yiddish version of
his memoirs entitled "Koshmarn" (Nightmares) was written
in the 1980s (Neyer Moment Publishers, Sao Paulo, Brazil,1975).
It was based on diaries the author had kept during his confinement
in the Sosnowiec ghetto, which unfortunately did not survive his
incarceration in Auschwitz. The present English translation is by
Miriam Dashkin Beckerman. The memoir chronicles the plight of a
single individual caught up in the Nazis murderous program.
In this case the memoirist was an individual who was politically
aware and highly articulate so that his personal record is a richly
detailed document of a human existence under extreme conditions--a
fate he shared with countless others.
Charmatz wrote in a forceful, direct prose and his
depictions of people and events bear witness to his skill as a professional journalist.
While he never alludes to his personal status, it is clear to the reader that he was a
person of exceptional leadership qualities. He was literate in several European languages
and this fact enabled him to read and interpret the news items garnered from clandestine
radio bulletins or newspapers to his fellow inmates who had no other access to crucial
information about the military progress of the war.
In 1985 he was awarded the World Federation of
Jewish Fighters, Camp Inmates, and Nazi Victims Prize in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Syracuse University Press will be publishing this
memoir in the near future.
Ostrowiec, Sosnowiec, Judenrat, Kapos,
Moishe Merin (head of the Judenrat in Sosnowiec), Auschwitz-Birkenau, Warsaw,
Warsaw ghetto, Death March (Warsaw to Dachau), Mildorf and Waldlager (labour camps),
Paris, Kracow, Brazil.
This narrative was composed in the post-war years
based on the diaries the author kept while he was in Sosnowiec ghetto. The diaries did not
survive his incarceration in Auschwitz, but they served as the basis for his personal
record of the war years. He describes in detail the initial response of the Polish Jews to
the Nazi invasion. He chronicles the establishment of the ghetto in Sosnowiec, the
behaviour of the Germans and the various methods used by the Germans to falsify the truth
about their plans for the Jews so as to prevent any uprising among the imprisoned Jews.
Gives a vivid critical account of the activities of the Judenrat Elder, Moishe
Merin, and his cohorts. Arrested by the Gestapo, Charmatz is sent to German labour camps
and eventually to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Later, he is transported to Warsaw and works in the
labour camp employed to clean up the ruins of the destroyed Warsaw ghetto. His account of
existence in these various labour and concentration camps offers a valuable record of the
conditions and human relations that confronted him. He describes the desperate experience
of the Death March from Warsaw to Dachau. Several days before the liberation of the camp
by US forces, he succesfully escapes to a nearby village untl freed by the US army on May
2, 1945. Describes the immediate post-war years including his stay in Paris and his
travels back to Poland where he is repelled by local Poles. Makes contact with his family
in Latin America and emigrates to Brazil.