by Dr. Haim Zines, Book's editor
Translated by Mira Eckhaus
With the publication of this book we are closing a circle, repaying an old debt that we committed to when we came out of that inferno. We are writing the book for the sake of our children and their children, so that they know about the life we have lost. In this quite simple manner, the Kuty committee members told me, when they approached me about two years ago, and gave me the task of editing the book.
This book was born in blood on the ruins of the Jewish Kuty in 1942. As early as 1954, the Kuty Committee in Israel was organized, and collected testimonies from the survivors. The committee intended to publish a memorial book in Hebrew. For some reason which is unknown to me - the book was not published in those years, but the dream of publishing it continued to exist. That committee was headed by my grandfather, Yaakov Schechter, who died at a ripe old age in 1980. Perhaps there is more here than the coincidence that his grandson was privileged to complete his work. The timing is also symbolic. This year is the fiftieth year of the destruction and tragic death of our loved ones. Among the victims was also my grandmother Chaya, who bequeathed her name to me.
The book was written with love. It was neither written by professional writers, nor professional historians. Hence it is not a historical book in the ordinary sense. It is a collection of personal stories, crumbs of life collected from the depths of memory. Dozens of people participated in its writing, many are no longer among the living. The testimonies were collected from various sources, including the Yad Vashem archive, personal diaries and letters sent to the editorial department. A particularly important source was the estate of Yaakov Schechter, chapters of which are presented here.
The editing process was complex. Some of the material has been translated from Yiddish, Polish, English and German with the assistance of Arie Hazenpertz and Azriel Hirsch; And some of it was edited, with light modifications, while strictly maintaining the personal style of each writer. The meticulous reader will be able to notice that uniformity in the Hebrew translation of people's names and places has not always been maintained. This is due to the fact that the residents of the area spoke Yiddish in various dialects, and disruptions/changes that were prevalent in the spoken language permeated sometimes into the manuscripts that we received.
Two principles guided me in the editing work. One, to publish every manuscript sent to me; I was especially careful not to omit the names of the saints mentioned in them. The second principle was not to decide regarding the controversial questions. Therefore, I preceded the testimonials with the article on Kuty from the Register of Communities, an encyclopedia of Jewish settlements from their inception until after the Holocaust of World War II, Poland, Volume II: Eastern Galicia (the book was published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 5740). All the stories and testimonies in the book express the author's inner truth, and they join a diverse mosaic that outlines the diversity of life and their loss.
The city was known to its Jewish inhabitants by its Polish name Kuty or by its Yiddish name Kitev. As for its Hebrew name - we encountered a problem. The survivors, as well as the sources, mention at least three different versions: Kitov, Kitev and Kutiv. However, in a vote we conducted among most living survivors (1992) the name Kitov was chosen as the most appropriate for the purpose of the book.
Naturally the book covers a wide range of topics and different writing styles. I hope that every reader - and especially the generation of the sons and grandsons - will be able to find passages whose reading will bring him closer to the world he did not know.
In the book of seven chapters:
First chapter: History of the city - the history of Kuty.
Second chapter: Life - Personal Memories and Folklore Stories about the Jewish Kuty.
Third chapter: Holocaust - Personal Memories of the fate of Kuty Jews in the Holocaust.
Fourth chapter: Poems - Poems published by the people of Kuty in books and magazines.
Fifth chapter: The Saints - The Names of the Saints.
Sixth chapter: The Silver Tray - Boys who fell in the wars of Israel.
Seventh chapter: Those who originated from Kuty - names of those who originated from Kuty who are in Israel and around the world.
I feel a pleasant duty to thank the members of Kuty committee who made it possible for the book to be published. Particularly commendable is Arie Hazenpertz who is the driving force behind this great enterprise; Azriel Hirsch who assisted in the translation, went over the manuscript and commented on it; Yosef Moskowitz and Adv. Pesach Moore of Moskowitz family, who encouraged and supported, and donated generously.
In addition, Anshel Spielman from Yair Publishing, who published the book with the means available to us, will be blessed. I am also grateful to the Yad Vashem Institution that gave his consent for the use of the entry Kuty and the map of Galicia from theoptiBook of Communities, to Al Hamishmar publication for its permission to print the song of Itzik Menger Between Kitev and Kosov as translated by Binyamin Tene and to other publishing houses that I used the material printed by them.
And of course, thanks to all the ones among those who originated from Kuty who contributed their manuscripts to this book. Without all this - the book would not have been published.
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