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1947 and Onwards
































Volume 12

Perec Zylberberg

This I Remember

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies

Copyright Perec Zylberberg, 2001

Key Words

Lodz, Polish Army retreat, German invasion, Polish anti-Semitism, Rumkofsky, Warsaw, Dobryzn, Uberfall Commando (ghetto police composed of criminals, smugglers, pimps), Sonder Kommando (Jewish police units working for the Gestapo), CRIPO (criminal police at service of the Germans), ghetto hospital, Bund, impact of Warsaw Ghetto uprising, suicide in London of Shmul Arthur Zygelboim, Medem Shule, SKIF (Bundist youth camp), Czenstochowa (Polish city), Warta (labour camp), Kapos, Bundist activities in labour camp, transport to Buchenwald, inmates are numbered, social distinctions among inmates, Weimar (German city), Chemnitz, transported from Buchenwald to Theresenstadt, Liberation by Red Army, post-war conditions in Prague, flight to England, hostel at Windemere (Lake district), Alton (town in England), Overbury Court hostel, debates between Zionist and Bundist youth, Sweden, emigration to Canada in 1958.


Narrative begins with lengthy and detailed introspective account of the factors involved in attempting to deal with his Holocaust experience. Concerned with the moral issues of recollecting and assessing past events, he has felt strong urge to record his life during the war years but was inhibited from doing so. Once he begins to write, the narrative is often interrupted by lengthy stretches of time--the manuscript carries the date of each segment’s composition. The story proceeds in a non-sequential mode; the wartime experiences are interspersed with detailed descriptions of pre-war life, especially the memories of family and Bundist youth movement activities and camps. Born in Lodz in 1924 to working-class secular, socialist family, consisting of parents, older brother and younger sister. Describes family conditions in pre-war Poland and the changes that occur at the outbreak of the war. Bombs fall in their neighbourhood. Father and brother leave Lodz for eastern part of the country, but later return. Description of living conditions in the ghetto and his attempts at finding work to supplement the family income. Family attempts to escape ghetto and join father who works in a small town, but attempt is foiled and they return to Lodz. Describes his many jobs within the ghetto factories and provides an account of the industrial-economic situation in the ghetto. Relates the role of Rumkofsky as Jewish head of the ghetto. From radio sources, learns of Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Describes the impact of the event on the Lodz Ghetto inhabitants. At the end of 1943 deportations from the ghetto begin. He is rounded up and spends months in the local prison; then deported March, 1944 to what he believes was a labour camp. Mother and sister remain in Lodz. Taken to Polish city of Czenstochowa and adjacent labour camp of Warta. Describes the social distinctions among the prisoners and the camp conditions. On January, 1945 inmates put on freight cars and transported to Buchenwald, Germany. Inmates are numbered. Prisoners are from all countries of occupied Europe and speak many languages. Labour brigades in Weimar. On April 10, 1945, many days terrible journey to Theresenstadt, Czechoslovakia. Contracts typhus and is delirious when camp is liberated by Russian and American troops. Conditions in the camp in the months following liberation. Arrangements by Jewish refugee groups to move survivor youth to England via Prague. Life in England, first in the Lake District in Windemere, later to London. Organization of Bundist youth group and conflicts with Zionist representatives. Reunited with sister who had been relocated to Sweden. Cultural activities in London sponsored by the Bund. Marriage and birth of children. Hardships in England. Emigrates to Montreal, Canada in 1958. Describes family life and education of children.

Editorial Note: Dates of entries indicate the time of each segment’s composition.






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