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Julian S. Holocaust testimony (HVT-4087) interviewed by Piotr Szewc,

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-4087

Videotape testimony of Julian S., a famous Polish writer, who was born in Stryĭ, Austria (presently Ukraine) in 1905, the youngest of three children. He recounts his family's orthodoxy and poverty (his father was a private teacher and his mother supported them); speaking only Yiddish at home; his sister's great influence upon him (she was a Polish teacher); learning Polish from her; negative feelings toward Judaism; visiting an uncle in Monastyrysʹka with his sister in 1914; outbreak of war; Russian occupation; participating in Hashomer Hatzair; writing in both Polish and Hebrew; his brother's emigration to Palestine in 1920; his sister's death in 1921; attending university in Lʹviv beginning in 1927; translating Hebrew literature into Polish; his mother's emigration to Palestine in 1934; joining the communist party; nine-month's imprisonment for his political activities; working as a book seller; his father's death; and fleeing to Kiev, Włodawa, then Kovelʹ in September 1939 upon German invasion of Poland.
Mr. S. recalls returning to Lʹviv when it was placed under Soviet control; working in publishing, then radio; German invasion in June 1941; escaping to Stalingrad (presently Volgograd); hard physical labor; traveling to Kuibyshev (presently Samara), then the Fergana Valley; selling newspapers in Tashkent; transfer to Tajikistan to pick cotton, then to a munitions factory near Moscow; an influential Polish writer arranging for him to work in media in Moscow; directing a Polish press agency after the war; changing his name to be more Polish; leaving the communist party in 1966; and his successful literary career. Ms. S. discusses specific novels that reflect his Jewish identity, Jews he knew, including his father, events during the Holocaust, and homosexuality; fond memories of Hashomer Hatzair; writers who have influenced him; identifying himself as a Jew although he remained in Poland; Polish antisemitism despite interest in Jewish culture; visits to Israel; his compulsion to write, which he thinks comes from God despite being a non-believer, as well as struggling to write; and writing to commemorate the “Jewish nation” and relations among people, particularly love.

S., Julian, 1905-1996.
Warsaw, Poland : Words & Images, 1994
Interview Date
July 6, 1994.
Stryĭ (Ukraine)
Moscow (Russia)
Monastyrysʹka (Ukraine)
Lʹviv (Ukraine)
Kiev (Ukraine)
Włodawa (Poland)
Kovelʹ (Ukraine)
Volgograd (Russia)
Samara (Russia)
Fergana Valley
Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Julian S. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-4087). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2018-06-04 13:32:00
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