A unique personal account of Jewish life in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust and of a young man's determination to prevail in the face of utter catastrophe. In this unusual memoir, Edward Stankiewicz stirringly recalls his youth as a Polish Jew beginning with prewar Warsaw through to the Nazi invasion. Life on the run lands Stankiewicz in Soviet-occupied. Lwow where in time he joins the Lwow Literary Club. A friend of Jewish, Yiddish, Polish, and Soviet poets and writers, he offers rare insights into wartime Eastern European intellectual life. After the German occupation of Lwow, in the newly built Jewish ghetto, he works in German military outfits and learns to forge Aryan and German documents to help people escape. In a German uniform he escapes to the Eastern Ukraine where he wanders for several months from town to town. Captured by the Gestapo, he is shipped to Buchenwald where he survives as a Pole. In the camp he manages to produce Polish and German poetry and a play. Some of these poems are reproduced in the book. Writing in a spare, accessible style, Stankiewicz unflinchingly addresses such significant issues as identity, loyalty, betrayal, anti-Semitism, and communism.
Edward Stankiewicz is professor emeritus of Slavic linguistics and literary theory at Yale University. He is the author of many articles and books about Slavic and general linguistics, the history of linguistics, poetics, and Yiddish.