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Ponary Diary, 1941-1943

Ponary Diary, 1941-1943: A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder

Kazimierz Sakowicz
EDITED BY Yitzhak Arad
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Ponary Diary, 1941-1943
    Book Description:

    About sixty thousand Jews from Wilno (Vilnius, Jewish Vilna) and surrounding townships in present-day Lithuania were murdered by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators in huge pits on the outskirts of Ponary. Over a period of several years, Kazimierz Sakowicz, a Polish journalist who lived in the village of Ponary, was an eyewitness to the murder of these Jews as well as to the murders of thousands of non-Jews on an almost daily basis. He chronicled these events in a diary that he kept at great personal risk.

    Written as a simple account of what Sakowicz witnessed, the diary is devoid of personal involvement or identification with the victims. It is thus a unique document: testimony from a bystander, an "objective" observer without an emotional or a political agenda, to the extermination of the Jews of the city known as "the Jerusalem of Lithuania."

    Sakowicz did not survive the war, but much of his diary did. Painstakingly pieced together by Rahel Margolis from scraps of paper hidden in various locations, the diary was published in Polish in 1999. It is here published in English for the first time, extensively annotated by Yitzhak Arad to guide readers through the events at Ponary.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12917-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)

    This is the first publication in English of the diary kept by Kazimierz Sakowicz from 1941 to 1943 in Ponary, near Wilno (Lithuanian Vilnius, Jewish Vilna). This diary, which describes the murders of some 50,000 to 60,000 Jewish men, women, and children by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators, is one of the most shocking documents of its time. Historians were denied access to the diary for many years, possibly because it provides evidence of the atrocities committed by Lithuanians (Sakowicz’s “Ponary riflemen”) as well as by the German occupiers of the city.

    When I first learned of the existence...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Note on the Text
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Ponary Diary
    (pp. xix-144)

    For generations before its liquidation during World War II, the Jewish community of Wilno was a major center of Jewish secular and religious culture; world Jewry referred to the city as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.” From the second half of the eighteenth century Wilno was part of tsarist Russia. Then in 1920 it came under Polish control, until September 19, 1939, when the Red Army occupied the city in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact apportioning Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union. A few weeks later the district was transferred to Lithuanian control. The...

  7. Index
    (pp. 145-156)