Great Darkness

Joseph Bainvoll

Great Darkness

Jewish Historical Institute
Publication year

Joseph Bainvoll was born in 1925 in Łódź. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, he managed to complete only seven classes of the Jewish school. For some time he lived with his family in the town of Stopnica. Since the fall of 1942 he was successively in the camps: Skarżysko-Kamienna, Buchenwald, Schlieben and Theresienstadt. After the liberation, he decided with his wife, a prisoner in Auschwitz, to emigrate to Palestine, which was illegal at the time. They lived together for over 60 years, had children and became grandparents.

Joseph Bainvoll died in 2010 of cancer. 

A lot of camp testimonies have been written, but the memoirs of Joseph Bainvoll are distinguishable in terms of their unique form: in changing images and short scenes the author presents his childhood, first loves and the camp nightmare. It is rather a frighteningly authentic screenplay, than a documentary novel. And it is a screenplay which reflects the ideas of Zimbardo, who underlines that it is not people who should be blamed for criminal behaviour, but systems which encourage it.

The book was published in the series: „WSPOMNIENIA, RELACJE, DZIENNIKI” [Memoirs, Accounts, Diaries].

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