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Rafael Rajzner's memories

In August, the Jewish Historical Institute will publish an extraordinary book – the memories of Rafael Rajzner originating from Białystok who survived his stay in a ghetto and some labour camps. During the first years after the war, he decided to write down a chronicle of the life and extermination of the Białystok Jews during World War II. It is only now that the memories will be released in Polish version, thanks to the determination of Krzysztof Godlewski, a Białystok entrepreneur.


Rafael Rajzner, an eyewitness of the tragic events, is the author of these memories. For the first time, his book „Der umkum fun bialistoker jidntum (1939-1945)” was edited in Yiddish in 1948. The book was made available in Melbourne, thanks to Białystok Jews residing there, who escaped the death or emigrated before the war. Rajzner, who left for Australia, wrote down his memories and passed the manuscript to his friend, Lonek Lew. After some years he died and his book was only possible to read by those Jews who knew Yiddish. Before his death, Lonek Lew asked his son to translate the book in a language known and understood by a larger number of people. Henry Lew decided to respond to his father's request and hired about 20 translators who translated the book from Yiddish. In 2008, the English edition was published, as well as an English adaptation under the title: „The Stories Our Parents Found Too Painfull to Tell”. In 2010, the book was presented during the Białystok conference "Poszukiwanie pamięci i dialog" ("Searching for Memory and Dialogue"). At that point, Krzyszof Godlewski came into contact with it for the first time. The memories impressed him so much that he decided to track the book down and publish it in Polish, translating it by himself and later finding an editor. The Jewish Historical Institute admitted that the book should be released for the 70th anniversary of the Liquidation of the Białystok Ghetto under the title: "Losy niedopowiedziane. Zagłada Żydów Białostockich 1939-45".

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza Białystok, 02.08.2013