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Notes from the original Project Coordinator

The Przemysl Landsmanschaft in Israel, which published Sefer Przemysl (the Przemysl Yizkor Book), is no longer in existence. Our special thanks go to Gerry Meister, the President of the Przemysl Landsmanschaft (Congregation Tifereth Joseph Anshei Przemysl) in New York, for providing permission to translate the Przemysl Yizkor Book, and to Maury Adams for helping facilitate the process of obtaining the permission.

We were saddened to learn that, after a long illness, Maury (Moshe) Adams passed away on August 2, 2000. Mr. Adams was a Holocaust Survivor and a past President of Congregation Tifereth Joseph Anshei Przemysl in New York. Having survived a number of labor and concentration camps, he was an ardent supporter of Holocaust education and has expressed utmost interest in and support of this translation. We dedicate the translation of the Holocaust Section of the Przemysl Yizkor Book (Part V) in the memory of Maury (Moshe) Adams. He will be greatly missed.

As the Project Coordinator, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped me with this translation by providing me with the information I needed to ensure its accuracy, or with their support and encouragement. I would like to thank the following former Przemysl residents: Maury Adams, Miriam Banker, Jack Fields (Izio Felder), Dorota Leviner, Gerry Meister, Henry Poller, Alfred Steinhardt and Leonard Woloski. I would also like to thank our translator, Jessica Cohen, for the wonderful job that she has done, Alan Hirshfeld and Suzan Wynne for translating and contributing the Table of Contents and the Hebrew and Yiddish name indices respectively, and Ilan Blech and Karen Rosenfeld for their feedback and encouragement. Our sincere thanks also to all those who have kindly contributed funds towards this translation. Special thanks go to the Przemysl Landsmanschaft (Congregation Tifereth Joseph Anshei Przemysl) in New York and their President, Gerry Meister, for their very generous donation. This Project would not have been possible without your generosity!

We are pleased to present the first segment of the Hebrew translation of the Przemysl Yizkor Book. The initial work (the translation of the Table of Contents, Hebrew and Yiddish surname indices and the photo index) was done by volunteers (Alan Hirshfeld, Suzan Wynne and Barbara U. Yeager, respectively). The translation of the body of the book is being done by Jessica Cohen, a professional translator we have hired.

We have started with the two introductory chapters, followed by the Holocaust section. Starting with the Holocaust section was important because this part of the book may be of the most immediate consequence to researchers, as we still have the opportunity to talk to the Survivors. It is also very meaningful for Przemysl Survivors to be able to read this material as, in some instances, it may present them with historical information that they have not had access to before.

There are plans to translate the Yiddish section of the book as well. Some parts of the Hebrew and Yiddish Holocaust sections of the book are quite similar and those similarities will need to be examined more closely before a decision is made about how to best handle the translation of the Yiddish section.

The elements of the Hebrew translation that presented the most challenge both for the translator and for the coordinator (who also acted as the editor) were the surname spellings. The surnames were difficult to transliterate into English because the Yizkor Book text usually does not include any diacritical marks. There are no vowels, and typically, there is no way to distinguish, say, a bet from a vet, or kaf from a khaf. Additionally, we are not dealing only with Hebrew and English spellings here. The names could have been originally spelled following either the Polish or the German spelling. They may have also been transliterated into Hebrew directly from Yiddish rather than from a Latin based alphabet like Polish or German. Also, some names in the Hebrew section are simply spelled in Yiddish.

As we progressed with the translation, we noticed certain discrepancies in the original text. For example, the names are not spelled consistently throughout the whole book. We also noticed that some names have not been included in the original Hebrew index, while others are missing appropriate page references.

Here are a couple of examples regarding the spelling accuracy:

  1. The name Wilczer: spelled phonetically as Wiltsher ("vav, yod, lamed, tet, shin, resh") – p. 378; and Wilczer ("vav, yod, lamed, tsadi, apostrophe, resh") – p. 384.
  2. The name Susswein – spelled "zayin, yod, samekh, vav, yod, yod, nun" (p. 376). Elsewhere (p. 393), this name is spelled "zayin, vav, samekh, vav, vav, yod, nun" and transliterated by the authors into English as Suswein.

To illustrate the point about the surname index, here are a few examples from the first few pages of Part V of the Yizkor Book ("Shoah and Destruction"). None of the following names appear in the original Hebrew index.

  1. Page 371: names of 6 Holocaust Survivors who helped with writing of the Holocaust related chapter.
  2. Page 373: a list of Przemysl Jews killed in September 1939. # 24 – Israel Wogman, spelled "vav, vav, gimmel, mem, nun"; # 30 – Shmuel Rinak, spelled "resh, yod, nun, kof". # 33 – Mendel Freuer (or Freyer), spelled "peh, resh, vav, yod, yod, resh".

Because of these discrepancies, it is recommended that you use the surname indices cautiously. This refers to the original Hebrew and Yiddish indices and, consequently, to their transliterations. If your surnames do not appear in the indices, do not assume that your relatives have not been mentioned in the Yizkor Book. Read the text carefully and, wherever possible, refer to the Hebrew original for confirmation.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the surnames and names of streets and towns are spelled accurately. A particular effort has been made to spell the surnames the way they were spelled in Przemysl. Whenever possible, surnames were checked against resources such as the 1929 Business Directory, Waclaw Wierzbieniec’s book, Spolecznosc Zydowska Przemysla 1918-1939 (The Przemysl Jewish Community 1918-1939), or the English transliterations available in the text (often, the photo captions include English name transliterations).[*] The assistance of former Przemysl residents was also sought. However, not all surnames could be verified. Usually, where there was doubt, an alternative spelling is suggested in translator’s and editor’s notes.

In the words of the authors of the Yizkor Book, "we are aware of the flaws and imperfections in our efforts" (Chapter 1 – People of the Book [p. xvi]). We realize that, despite all our efforts to provide a most accurate translation, errors may have been made inadvertently. Therefore, it would be greatly appreciated if anyone with direct knowledge of the material would contact the Project Coordinator so that the errors could be corrected.

In order to make it easier for readers to refer to the original text, we have included the original page numbers throughout the text. They are included in the square brackets []. In the square brackets, we have also included information about the photos incorporated throughout the original text. We have maintained the original paragraph division wherever possible. The translator’s and editor’s notes have been included as endnotes and they have been marked (tr.) and (ed.), respectively.

Barbara U. Yeager

July 29, 2000


* See the Photo Surname Index
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