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Translation of the
Wiślica Yizkor Book

(Wiślica, Poland)

 

Project Leader: Kelly Mackin
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project was developed to translate the remainder of the Memorial Book of Wiślica.

Key Audiences

Holocaust researchers, family members and friends of the martyrs, Yad Vashem and students of Polish and Jewish history.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual movements in 20th century Europe The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or died in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Wiślica may be unique in that it is inextricably entwined with the history of Poland. From the period after 1850, Wiślica was a supermajority Jewish town, so its history is also an important part of the history of the Jewish people.

Wiślica remains to this day one of the most important towns in all of Poland. Located approximately 50km from Krakow, it was a vital cultural center of an important Polish duke, Casimir the Just, who established proper laws and supported culture in medieval Poland. One of the first and oldest Catholic Churches in Central Europe was established in Wiślica perhaps as early as 1000 A.D. Jews first reportedly came to Wiślica in the 16th century, and after a time were legally permitted to settle and live there. In the interbellum Wiślica retained its status as a multinational town with a large Jewish population representing 70% of the population. There the Polish/Jewish relations were mostly peaceful though Poland has always been a turbulent place.

During World War II, the Jewish residents of Wiślica were forced into a ghetto set up by the German occupation in 1940. They forced 1500 people to live in 72 homes. The number of imprisoned Jews climbed to 2,500 as fugitive Jews and the previously deported filled the tiny ghetto under horrendous conditions. The Jewish cemetery, central to Jewish spiritual life, had its stones cut down to build roads for the Germans. Deportations aboard Holocaust trains to Treblinka began and the ghetto liquidation commenced on 3 October 1942. There are many stories of Poles protecting Jewish people there during the Holocaust. Several residents of the Wiślica area have been honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

What we have learned so far is that its story of Wiślica is much more important than its size suggests and the rest of its memory needs to be recovered so that all those interested and affected may know the full extent of its achievements and history.

Project Description

As funds become available, Yiddish pages will be translated into English by a professional translator. Eventually, Hebrew pages will also be translated. The book is small enough to be translated from beginning to end at an orderly pace, without pause. The project coordinator will review the translation and work closely with the translators. The project has three phases, (1) the time of World War II, (2) Jewish life in Wiślica before 1939, and (3) the Jewish version of the history of the town.

Estimated Cost

Phase one will cost approximately $3,000. Phase two, Approximately $2,000, and phase three, $1,000. This may change and can be adjusted over time if necessary and if translation is more burdensome than expected.

 


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