So often, we read accounts of the Shoah afer the fact. Not to diminish their power, but primary testimony as the events happened, understandably a rarer extant survival, speaks directly and eloquently with a visceral power. The accounts here, by a cross-section of thoughtful, self-deprecating, agonized, and bewildered observers, show why those in the ghetto were so diminished and demoralized.
Years of abuse, mental and physical, years of starving and disease and uncertainty wreaked havoc on the Jews in Warsaw. Reading these accounts, you understand how awful were the limited choices between giving in and holding out could both be. Also, what here emerges more fully is the extent to which Jews were exploited with the hopes of work permits, resettlement, visas, and hush money by informers, turncoats, bosses, and those willing or forced to collaborate. The constant anxiety underscores the bodily suffering of the ghetto's inhabitants.
Revealed here are the predicaments hundreds of thousands of people like you and me faced, nearly half-a-million crowded into an area the size of Central Park. What often has been distorted into kitsch or melodrama in later re-creations in its original context remains unforgettably eloquent.