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Words to Outlive Us: Eyewitness Accounts from the Warsaw Ghetto Paperback – Nov 1 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (Nov. 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312422687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312422684
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 449 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #661,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The 29 never-before-published diaries, letters and personal accounts in the late historian Grynberg's vital collection offer a devastating portrait of life in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1940 and 1943. Less than 1% of the almost 500,000 Jews confined there survived the disease, malnutrition and deportation to concentration camps; a handful of the contributors escaped the ghetto by navigating the sewer system to the "Aryan" side of Warsaw. Historian Emanuel Ringelblum's noted journals provided an exhaustive, firsthand record of the Warsaw Ghetto, but these skillfully translated records by shopkeepers and doctors, dentists and schoolgirls are more powerful. Ghetto residents write of needing to get permission to bake matzoh, longing for the patter of autumn rain or hiding in a room with 200 stifling, hot, dirty, stinking people; two cases of full-blown tuberculosis; one of measles. Several of the diarists are members of the Jewish police, who express the agony of trying to provide for their families while collaborating with the enemy. The diversity of the contributors' cultural and economic backgrounds adds to the mural of a variegated Jewish Warsaw during Nazi occupation; mostly translated from Polish, the different voices include assimilationists, traditionalists, communists, socialists and Zionists. Some are despairing; others, like the brilliant Helena Midler, whose parodic Bunker Weekly stuck out its tongue at hardship, find ways to laugh. Many of the accounts note the meticulous planning behind the Nazis' dizzying regulations, and the editor adds relevant data, including maps and detailed rosters of laborers. If one can read only one book on the Warsaw Ghetto, this is it.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This powerful testament of witnesses to the Warsaw Ghetto is a small piece of the late editor's lifework of preserving the record of German atrocities. At the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Grynberg gathered and organized thousands of personal accounts. These writings from 29 people must have had the most visceral impact because the majority of these descriptions were made contemporaneously, not after the war. This first appearance in English requires their placement in every Holocaust library. Editorially, they are split up among the milestones of the ghetto, from its establishment in 1940 to the deportations of 1942 to the uprising of 1943 to the liberation of 1945. These descriptions are almost unbearable to read; infused as they are with scenes of unspeakable depravity, they nevertheless exhibit a sense of heroism, of the chroniclers' determination that memory of the enormity enveloping them might not vanish with their own deaths. Many of the 29 in fact did not survive, but their words are indelible. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The Germans inoved quickly to identify and isolate the Jewish population of Warsaw. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
How can one describe the indescribable? In the last several years, I have read maybe a dozen and a half books on the Shoah and have been greatly impressed by many if not all of them. This narrative though, I feel, is head and shoulders above all of the other personal accounts that I have read thus far. Words to Outlive Us is a fascinating read. This, I feel, can be attributed to three things: the structure of the book(it is divided into six chapters each dealing with a particular aspect of life and death inside the Ghetto), the fascinating and in many cases heartbreaking quality of the accounts and finally, the sheer quantity of unique individual accounts. . While none of these components of the book are unique individually, put together they create an unsurpassed narrative of those Jews, who for no other reason than the fact they were Jews, suffered under the Nazis and in many cases, their Polish neighbors. This compilation is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It is even more amazing when one takes into account the immense danger that these victims placed themselves in simply by writing of their experiences as Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Particularly poignant I felt, were the chapters on the institutions of the Ghetto, the resistance and liberation. Through these accounts the reader is seeing day to day life and tragedies as if he or she is witnessing them personally. The reader is a witness to both the greatest acts of kindness and the most horrific acts of violence which human beings are capable of. This is, I believe, the greatest testament to the power of this collection of personal stories. My only disappointment in this book was that it wasn't double it's 440 pages.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book after I watched the movie "The Pianist". The true accounts in this book shocked and moved me. By combining with the visual impact from the movie, I am able to relate what I read with what I watched from the movie. After reading the book, I admired the courage, the-will-to-survive, and the brilliance of the Jewish people. I suggest to people who are interested to know what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto, but who has no such background on the holocaust, watched the movie first, then read this book. It is not a dry history book. The acccounts were written by people who have superb writing skill, though they might not know themselves.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
For people who want to understand the Holocaust April 17 2003
By Hau LP - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I read this book after I watched the movie "The Pianist". The true accounts in this book shocked and moved me. By combining with the visual impact from the movie, I am able to relate what I read with what I watched from the movie. After reading the book, I admired the courage, the-will-to-survive, and the brilliance of the Jewish people. I suggest to people who are interested to know what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto, but who has no such background on the holocaust, watched the movie first, then read this book. It is not a dry history book. The acccounts were written by people who have superb writing skill, though they might not know themselves.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
How some fought back and why others could or would not May 3 2003
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Required Holocaust Reading Nov. 24 2007
By Vellum C. Page - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THe breadth of these first-person journal entries is awesome and profound. These are real voices from the Warsaw Ghetto. They truly are Words to outlive us. I have been lately somewhat obsessed with the tragedy of the Warsaw Ghetto. I have read several books about the time, and the plight of the Jews there. This one gives such powerful details, organized around around different subjects. These are the words of the people who lived it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An important work, drawn from eyewitness testimonies Jan. 24 2012
By Z Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As the years pass, fewer survivors remain from the period of horror that was the Holocaust. It is all the more important to preserve as much as possible of accounts of this period. One of the biggest concentration of Jews in Europe during WW II was in the Warsaw Ghetto, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were confined within the boundaries of a deliberately sealed-off section of the city. Though the ghetto was eventually razed (most of its occupants had been deported, mainly to the extermination camp at Treblinka; fewer still had managed to escape; and many brave souls had perished while fighting the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), evidence of the ghetto's existence and of what had occurred there was found among the rubble, thanks to the efforts of Emanuel Ringelblum, historian of the Warsaw Ghetto. Ringelblum had overseen the project called Oneg Shabbat which served to document the happenings in the ghetto, and of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis (Ringelblum and his family were executed by the Nazis sometime in 1944).

This book is not a reproduction of Ringelblum's Warsaw ghetto archives, but but a compilation of testimonies by twenty-nine eyewitnesses who had been Jews living either in the ghetto during the course of the war, or who had been hiding on the Aryan side of Warsaw. Nine of the accounts were written by women; five were written by members of the Jewish Police that oversaw other Jews in the ghetto (many of whom were not looked upon too kindly by their fellow Jews on account of the job they did); the eyewitnesses came from a wide variety of professions (doctors, shopkeepers), and the ages of the eyewitnesses range from eleven years of age to forty-five, so readers get insights from diverse perspectives. The fate of a few of these diarists are known, but the fate of many others remains a mystery, presumably dead.

The accounts are organized in a chronological manner, from the beginnings of the ghetto (built using Jewish labor and Jewish funds); ghetto institutions; roundups, selections, deportations; passive and active resistance inside the ghetto; on the other side of the wall; and, liberation. This is followed by notes on the chapters; a glossary; biographies of the writers; and, an index.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Holocaust accounts April 26 2010
By asiana - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wonder what these people would have become if they had had the opportunity to live? Makes one very reflective.


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