“May God Avenge Their Blood: A Holocaust Memoir Triptych” by Rachel Bryks, translated by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub— Revisiting the Holocaust

Byrks, Rachmil. “May God Avenge Their Blood: A Holocaust Memoir Triptych”, translated by , translated by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, (Lexington Studies in Jewish Literature) Hardcover – April 15, 2020

Revisiting the Holocaust

Amos Lassen

Rachmil Bryks’ “May God Avenge Their Blood: a Holocaust Memoir Triptych” consists of three memoirs originally written in Yiddish. Bryks (1912–1974). In “Those Who Didn’t Survive,” Bryks gives us life between the World Wars in his shtetl Skarżysko-Kamienna, Poland and he does so with great detail that presents a portrait of a community that is no more. “The Fugitives” is about the confusion and terror of the early days of World War II in the city of Łódź and elsewhere. “From Agony to Life,” Bryks is about his time in Auschwitz and other camps. All three taken together is like taking a journey from Hasidic life before the Holocaust through the early period of war ultimately coming to the camps and the horrors that were there. The translations by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub allows the English reader to experience the memoirs for the first time.

Here three memoirs highlighting life in a twentieth century shtetl and the Jewish struggle for survival in wartime Łódź and in the concentration camps. Rachmil Bryks describes his experiences in the camps as well as offers an evocative description of the Jewish community destroyed by the Nazis. It was a society that was rich in tradition as change was taking over. There are stories about all aspects of life from “tales of Talmud to stories of elopement and entrepreneurship.” Life during the first weeks of the war make up the largest part of this memoir. Bryks describes everyone he encounters—Jews, Poles, Germans, peasants, writers, and others—with empathy.Thedeep antisemitism of many Poles is clear and we have all learned about it elsewhere but until now I have not read such details. they also show many examples of human kindness. There is no judgement or analysis, just description of what happened.

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s translation is rich and through it we get an in-depth look at life as it was before the War and during it. Bryks was one of the most talented young poets and authors who survived the Łódź ghetto and concentration camps and he recreates his experiences as he shows us the tragedy of Polish Jewry.  and evoke the beauty, struggle, humor and tragedy of Jewish life in prewar and wartime Poland. Through descriptions of the many members of his extended family, we see real people facing dire fates. We are taken into their lives and become invested in the people we meet here. Almost all of them were brutally and cruelly murdered by the Nazis.) While this is Bryk’s story, it is also the story of so many others.

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