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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.

Author/Creator
S., Julian, 1905-1996.
Published
Warsaw, Poland : Words & Images, 1994
Interview Date
July 6, 1994.
Locale
Austria
Stryĭ (Ukraine)
Moscow (Russia)
Monastyrysʹka (Ukraine)
Lʹviv (Ukraine)
Kiev (Ukraine)
Włodawa (Poland)
Kovelʹ (Ukraine)
Volgograd (Russia)
Tajikistan
Samara (Russia)
Fergana Valley
Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Language
Polish
Copies
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: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/4677241
Record last modified: 2018-06-04 13:32:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/hvt4677241