The night of 15th August was calm and moonlit...

„The Fight and Holocaust of the Białystok Ghetto”

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„Members of a united resistance organization, under leadership of Tenenbaum sat till midnight. At 2am there was an alarm: the SS officers had surrounded the ghetto and entered the factories. The seizure of the factories thwarted the plan of the members of the organization to set the factories on fire while fighting. It became obvious that the hour of the final holocaust of the ghetto had come,” wrote in 1945 in „The Fight and Holocaust of the Białystok Ghetto”Szymon Datner, a former prisoner of the Białystok Ghetto and member of the fighting organization operating there; having left the ghetto in June 1943, he became a guerrilla troop soldier stationed in Białostocczyzna region and after the liberation of those areas from the German occupation he was the president of the Voivodeship Jewish Committee in Białystok, a member of local division of the Jewish Historical Commission and the Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes.

„The Fight and Holocaust of the Białystok Ghetto” was the first publication of the Voivodeship Jewish Historical Commission in Białystok, for many years one of few, not only in Poland, printed books on the Białystok Ghetto. Datner dedicated it to THE MEMORY OF 200 000 JEWS OF THE BIAŁYSTOK VOIVODESHIP MURDERED BY THE GERMANS. The account written by Datner combines the characteristics of a testimony with an attempt of historical reconstruction of facts (this issue is thoroughly analyzed by Katrin Stoll in a text included in the latest edition of „The Fight and Holocaust...”). It is a powerful book about a world which is hard to imagine today, though it is not so distant. It asks uncomfortable questions and makes it impossible to stay indifferent. The power of the content of The Fight and the Holocaust is determined not only by the language filled with emotions, harshness of the judgements expressed by the author and an uncompromising nature of his appraisals, but also by consciousness that he talks about his own experiences, and those of his murdered family and community, which he never stopped being part of till the end of his life and which we cannot forget about.

In 2014, after almost seventy years since the first edition of Datner’s book, the Jewish Historical Institute published its new edition with critical apparatus. Co-authors of the annotations are Ewa Rogalewska, the author of footnotes, where the data from the original text was confronted with current knowledge, and Katrin Stoll, the author of the Afterword. The publication inaugurates the series Critical Edition of the Works of the Central Jewish Historical Commission. It is aimed to outline achievements of early studies on the Holocaust in Poland, document their unique and pioneering, and at the same time, still fresh and up-to-date dimension, pointing out the fact of the then studies being set in the tradition of Jewish historiography, especially of the pre-war period. 

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