Category Archives: Literature

The Initial Spark to Jägendorf’s Foundry

Yitzhak Arad, The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, University of Nebraska Press & Yad Vashem, Lincoln/Jerusalem, 2009, P. 301-3012: “Around 27,000 Jews – half of the deportees from Bukovina – were concentrated in the Mogilev-Podolsky region. The town was an economical center, and many of the deportees hoped to find accomodation and employment there. The initiative of a few Jews made it possible for thousands of deportees to remain in the town – contrary to the designs of the Romanian authorities, who felt that there was no room in the semi-ruined town for the Jews. A prominent figure among these was the engineer Ziegfried Jägendorf, who had held the rank of lieutenant in the Austrian army during World War I. Jägendorf managed to arrange a meeting with the town’s Romanian prefect, Colonel Ion Baleanu, with whom he had served in the Austrian army and who knew that he was an engineer. To Jägendorf’s request that conditions should be eased for the Jewish deportees and that they should be permitted to stay in the town, Baleanu replied:

You must realize that Jews cannot stay in Mogilev: we are establishing camps for them elsewhere in the district…We need your services here in Mogilev. The power station was put out of action during the battles and further damaged when the Dnestr overflowed its banks. I want you to select a few electricians and mechanics from your ranks, four or five, perhaps.

Jägendorf convinced the town’s Romanian authorities that the repair and reopening of the power station would require hundreds of Jewish workers, and so they were permitted to remain in the town with their families. After Jägendorf and his employees reinstated the town’s electricity supply, further manufacturing plants were established in which Jews were employed. One of Jägendorf’s enterprises was a metal foundry, to which he gave the name ‘Turnatoria’. It produced various commodities, including heaters for government officials and the local population, metal parts for repairing bridges over the Dnestr, and other objects; in the beginning of 1942 more than 1,000 Jews were employed in these plants. For the deportees these initiatives were salvation. Jägendorf was elected chairman of the thirteen-man Jewish council, and, except for the latter half of 1942, he served in this position for as long as the ghetto existed.”

Read aslo: https://hauster.blogspot.com/2010/02/das-wunder-von-moghilev.html

2016 Hilde Domin Prize for Literature in Exile awarded to Edgar Hilsenrath

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Edgar Hilsenrath: “The city of Heidelberg’s 2016 Hilde Domin Prize for Literature in Exile has been awarded to German-Jewish writer Edgar Hilsenrath (born 1926). The accolade is awarded every three years to writers who live in exile in Germany, or who have been affected by the issue as descendants of exiles, who tackle the theme of exile in their literary work and who publish in German. In granting the award, the jury stated, ‘In Edgar Hilsenrath, we are honouring a writer whose life’s work has been to communicate the experience of exile through original and daring literature. His novels, which are driven by bleak, dark powers of imagination, are attempts to find ways to speak of the horrific acts humans commit against each other through various forms of the grotesque. His stories are best symbolised as laughter that gets caught in your throat – somewhere between cynicism, sorrow and assertiveness.’”

Marion Tauschwitz: I had the chance and pleasure to talk to him and to give him my biography on Selma Merbaum, he was very interested in. He and Selma could have met at Moghilew-Podolks where Selma stayed for a short while before being deported to cariera de piatra.

Emunah Czernowitz – “Heimkehr” Essays jüdischer Denker

Another of the Jewish fraternities was “Emunah”.  On June 3, 1903, the Jewish National Academic Reading Society was “thrown open,” with the club colors gold-violet-gold. “Emunah” was highly active in the field of Zionism – a  characteristic for all the Jewish fraternities –  and also set up a library open to the public. Furthermore, “Emunahs” intellectual athmosphere culminated in publishing several books. To mention is especially “Heimkehr. Essays jüdischer Denker”  with a preface by Leon Kellner. (Homecoming. Essays of Jewish Thinkers). This anthology contains contributions by notable Jewish authors like Balaban Majer, Nathan Birnbaum (who coined the term “Zionism”), Max Rosenfeld, Salomon Schiller and Leon Kellner. It came out 1912 and is now available online via the university library of Frankfurt: http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/freimann/content/titleinfo/936863

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Happy Birthday, Edgar Hilsenrath!


goodreads: Edgar Hilsenrath (born [April 2] 1926) is a German-Jewish writer living in Berlin. His main works are Night, The Nazi and the Barber, and The Story of the Last Thought.

Hilsenrath was born in Leipzig. In 1938 his mother escaped with her two children to Siret (Sereth), in Romanian Bukovina, where they enjoyed a respite from persecution. At the time that he should have received an entrance card to higher education, he and his mother were interned in the ghetto of Cernăuţi (Czernowitz).

He began to write about the Holocaust after his liberation when he moved to Paris. Hilsenrath also lived in Palestine, Israel, and New York.

According to Dagmar C. G. Lorenz, Simon Wiesenthal Center, “Hilsenrath calls things by their proper names and portrays life first and foremost as physical existence, of whose details the reader is constantly made aware: birth, nursing, feeding, sex, and excretion accompanied by feelings of pleasure and pain. The rhetoric of politicians and political theory are shown to be the schemes of beings ultimately dependent on these bodily processes and subject to physical desires. Hilsenrath’s very approach is a protest against disrespect toward the mortal body, against the tyranny of the mind over matter.”

Czernowitz – Stadt der Dichter [City of Poets] by Amy-Diana Colin & Edith Silbermann

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Amy-Diana Colin’s (PhD, Yale) much-anticipated book “Czernowitz – Stadt der Dichter [City of Poets]”, the “History of a Jewish Family from Bukovina (1900-1948)” is now at the bookseller’s!

What a literary delectation, something for winter’s eve, but not only! From the blurb we learn: “The report of an exceptional contemporary witness: Edith Silbermann, nee Horowitz, from Czernowitz (Bukovina), actress, reciter, translator, Germanist, publicist, mediator between German and Jewish cultural traditions, narrates her turbulent family history and reports on her youth in Czernowitz before and during WW2. One chapter of this book is dedicated to Paul Antschel (Celan), Edith Silbermann’s friend from the early Czernowitz years until his death. It was for both, Paul and Edith, the first love of their youth. […]”

It is not just a literary delectation, it’s also a listening pleasure, since this precious book comes with two audio CDs including recordings from Edith Silbermann’s sophisticated recitation program. Read, listen and enjoy! It’s a special publication for Czernowitz lovers!

Alfred Kittner’s Handwritten CV in Romanian from the Year 1946

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I, Alfred Kittner, was born on November 24, 1906 in Czernowitz. My father, Heinrich Kittner (dead in 1932) was an accountant, my mother, Cecilia Kittner, born Kapralik, died in 1910, when I was barely 3 years old. I attended primary school and high school in Vienna, where my father lived during the First World War, and in Czernowitz. After graduating high school in 1925 and after attending for a year the Sciences Department of the Czernowitz University, I performed my military service as an infantryman in Satu Mare (1928-1929) and then I attended German Studies and German literature courses at Breslau University, where I began my literary career. In 1932, back in Czernowitz, I worked for a year in the accounting department of the Marmorosch-Blank Bank, and in 1933 I started as an editor with the “Der Tag”; (The Day) newspaper in Czernowitz, at which paper I worked as secretary, literary editor, spell-checker, reporter, etc. until 1936, when this newspaper became Czernowitzer Tagblatt. I worked in my former capacity at this newspaper as well, until it was suspended once the Goga-Cuza Cabinet came to power in 1939. This year I also published a volume of poetry. As a publicist, I always fought for the cause of democracy, against obscurantism, and I revealed, among other things, in my articles, the terrorist means and persecution applied by the Czernowitz police against the Communist prisoners. Throughout this time, I have been an occasional collaborator of literary magazines from Viena, Prague, etc.

In 1940-1941, after Northern Bukovina was annexed to the Soviet Russia, I worked as a librarian with the Regional Czernowitz Library, and as a censor of the foreign books, and I collaborated with the Moscow International Literature Magazine. In 1941, I was deported, having been black-listed as a democratic publicist, by the secret police of Gen. Antonescu. With my familyat Bug, after three torturous years in several extermination camps {Cariera pe Bug (Bug Quarry), Cetvertinovca, Demidovca, Obadovca} being freed by the victorious advancement of the Red Army, I returned to Czernowitz, where I restarted my former job at the Library. In the meantime, my brother in law was mobilized as a military medic and a captain in the liberating Polish Army, sent [invitations] for the entire family. This is how I ended up in Poland, from where I returned to my country after my brother in law was released from the military.

In October 1945 I became a librarian with Arlus [Association for closer Ties with the Soviet Union – Asociația Română pentru strângerea Legăturilor cu Uniunea Sovietică] Library, in which capacity I work even to this day, and in January of this year, I began to work as a radio anchor.

[Translation by courtesy of Elena Iuga]