Shmerke Kaczerginski was a boisterous, radical young writer and musician who led an exciting circle of young artists who called themselves "Young Vilna." His best friend, Abraham Sutzkever, would go on to become one of the greatest Yiddish poets of his generation. As the two entered adulthood, their artistic careers were interrupted with the Nazi invasion of their hometown of Vilna. They didn't expect that being thrown in a ghetto would lead to one of the most important works of their entire lives - the “Paper Brigade"
The Paper Brigade - Transcription:
It’s an afternoon in July, 1943. We’re in the old YIVO building outside the Vilna ghetto in German-occupied Lithuania. Inside are a group of Jewish slave laborers, including Shmerke Kaczerginski: 34 years-old, short, receded hairline, a bit cross-eyed. He’s winding down work for the day when he’s approached by his girlfriend, Rachela Krinsky. From “The Book Smugglers,” by David Fishman, quote:
“Are you still going to carry stuff today?” [she asked.]
Shmerke replied with his typical buoyant enthusiasm. “Of course [. . .]”
End quote. The “stuff” Shmerke was “carrying”--or, perhaps more accurately, smuggling--would be books. Not just books, though: rare and treasured books from Jewish authors, being collected and then, for the most part, destroyed by the Nazi Einsatzstab [EIN-ZATZ-SHTAB] Reichsleiter [REICHS-LITE-ER] Rosenberg task force. Quote:
Shmerke wrapped an old embroidered Torah cover around his torso. Once it was snug, he stuck four little books inside his new girdle--old rarities published in Venice, Salonika [SA-LOH-NI-KA], Amsterdam, and Krakow. Another tiny Torah cover swaddled him like a diaper. He buckled his belt and put on his shirt and jacket. He was ready to leave for the [Vilna] ghetto gate.
End quote. Ironically, the ghetto in Vilna--now Vilnius in Lithuania--was a safer place for such books than the outside. At least there they could be hidden away. Shmerke and his colleagues--including Rachela, and his best friend and fellow poet Abraham Sutzkever--had been slowly moving books into the ghetto, out of the hands of the Nazis, for some time. In many instances they risked their lives to do it. Like this July afternoon, when Shmerke approached the line headed into the ghetto. Quote:
Word came back from the front of the line. SS Obercharfuhrer Bruno Kittel was personally inspecting people at the gate. Kittel--young, tall, dark and handsome--was a trained musician and a natural, cool-headed murderer. He sometimes entered the ghetto to shoot inmates for sport. He’d stop someone on the street, offer the person a cigarette, and ask, “Do you want fire?” When the person nodded, he’d take out his pistol and shoot him in the head.
With Kittel present, the Lithuanian guards and Jewish ghetto police were more thorough than usual.
End quote. Shmerke’s coat was clearly puffed-up by the books not-so-inconspicuously hidden inside. He wouldn’t be able to explain them away, and Kittel had murdered other inmates for much less than what he was now attempting. Quote:
Shmerke wouldn’t unload. He knew it wouldn’t save him. Even if he left the Hebrew books and Torah covers lying on the street, the Germans would trace them back to his team. [. . .] So Shmerke took his chances and tried to prepare himself [. . .]
[He] began to tremble. As the line grew, it blocked traffic [. . .] Trolleys honked their horns. Non-Jewish pedestrians gathered across the street to watch the spectacle.
Suddenly, voices called back into the crowd.
“He went inside the ghetto!”
“Let’s go. Faster!”
End quote. Bruno Kittel had, for whatever reason, decided to up and walk away from the job of body searches. He embarked on a pleasant stroll through the ghetto. Quote:
The line surged forward. The guards [. . .] turned to see where he was headed, making no effort to stop the rushing crowd. As Shmerke passed through the gate, the books pressed tightly against him, he heard jealous voices call out in his direction.
“Some people have all the luck!”
Hi, I’m Nate Nelson, welcome to ‘On the Holocaust’, a podcast from Yad Vashem: the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
David Fishman: Shmerke Kaczerginski was a very lively and fun person [. . .] which is surprising because he grew up as an orphan.
David Fishman is a professor of Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the author of “The Book Smugglers.”
David Fishman: he grew from a very poor and sick boy to become a poet and very jovial, very lively.
Vilna was fertile ground for a young, budding artist.
David Fishman: On the one hand, Vilna was not the largest Jewish community in Poland. It was actually number four. But it had this amazing intellectual, Jewish intellectual tradition of learning, of scholarship, of literature and reading and it did have the nickname Yerushalayim Delita, the Jerusalem of Lithuania which was very evocative. That this was a place in some ways very special, even holy.
Vilna was home to such academic and cultural institutions as the Strashun public library, whose collection included over 5,000 rare Hebrew and Yiddish manuscripts from across four centuries in Europe. The Yiddish Scientific Institute--YIVO--also called the city home. Quote:
[T]he [YIVO] Institute’s organizational meetings were held in Berlin, but the resonance and centrality of Vilna virtually forced the founders to choose the city as its headquarters.
It was in this vibrant city that a group of young writers got together, calling themselves “Young Vilna” or, in the Yiddish pronunciation, “Yung Vilne [YOONG VIHL-NEH].”
David Fishman: Yung Vilne was a rather eclectic group of young poets, storytellers and by the way also, a few artists, painters and sculptors, men and women. Each had a different style, a different approach though I think generally speaking, you could say they were really attracted to this tension between oldness and newness, meaning Vilna is an old Jewish community and the name Yung Vilne meant innovation within the context of an old tradition
All of them were attracted to experimentation and literature and they became very popular. [. . .] Literature played a very central role in Jewish life in Vilna. In other words, they’re not the peripheries of the community, some kind of closed group. But their public events attracted hundreds of people and they were well-known. In a sense, they were like celebrities in the Vilna Jewish community.
Shmerke joined up with Yung Vilne, where he first met the young man who would later become his best friend, Abraham Sutzkever.
David Fishman: Sutzkever had also an unusual childhood in that his family fled the front in World War One and fled into inner Russia into the borders of Siberia. So he grew up in Siberia with all the snow and it’s important for him because the whiteness and the snow and the trees, it really forged him into the nature poet that he became.
Sutzkever’s father passed away in Siberia, and the family returned to Vilna after the first world war. Soon after arrival, the nature poet decided to apply to join Young Vilne.
David Fishman: By then it was an application process and the existing members had to accept him and Sutzkever was rejected and Shmerke said to him, “Abrasha, these are times of steel, not of crystal.” In other words, you’re writing beautiful, exquisitely beautiful poetry like crystal, you know, about the trees, about the snow, about the sun.
David Fishman: But these are the late 1930s. This is a time of struggle, of fighting, the rise of Nazism and the rise of the Soviet Union and you don’t deal with that. So paradoxically the first interactions they had was of one poet being rejected by the other. But another year later, Sutzkever was admitted into the group and they became – even though they’re sort of in many ways opposite in their politics, in their personality, they became very tight and the best of friends.
Shmerke was the leader of the popular Young Vilne--organizing and producing their work--while Sutzkever quickly became its most renowned member, a bona fide celebrity in the Yiddish literary community. But these golden years were cut short when in 1939, just as the two friends were leaving behind young adulthood and entering into their 30s, the Nazis invaded Poland.
On June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded the USSR, in breach of their non-aggression pact. They entered Vilna on June 24th. Approximately 60,000 Jews were living in Vilna at the time.
Following the occupation, German persecution and murder of Jews began almost immediately. In July, thousands of Jewish men were taken forcefully and murdered at a large mass murder pit at Ponar Forest. In September two ghettos were established, into which the Jews of Vilna and the surrounding areas were forced to move. Over the course of the following months the Germans, with the assistance of Lithuanian units, forcefully took tens of thousands of Jews to be murdered.
Among them were Shmerke and his wife.
David Fishman: It only took about a week for him to sense that this ghetto was a death trap and that they – and they decided they have to leave, they have to get out.
They came up with a plan. They joined a work brigade, which was sent out of the ghetto on assignment. When nobody was looking they slipped away, fleeing to a Lithuanian friend’s house in the forests outside of town.
David Fishman: On the way, a very poignant thing happened which is his young wife turned to him and said, “You know, Shmerke, you have such a thick Jewish accent. You would easily be detected. My Polish,” she says, “is perfect. No one would ever – and I don’t look Jewish. So I can easily pass. So if not for you, I could pass.”
He was so hurt and infuriated by that comment that he stopped dead in his tracks. Remember they’re on the outskirts of town basically, in the forest, and he just turns around and leaves her and goes back in the direction of the City of Vilna
A year into their marriage, Shmerke and his wife separated. She went into hiding, but was later found and killed.
David Fishman: The only way he found to survive outside the ghetto was to wander around small towns different – from town to town in the region of Vilna. Not in Vilna itself but in small – and to disguise himself as a Polish deaf mute, someone who wouldn’t talk and – that’s the important thing, who couldn’t talk, because he did have a strong Jewish accent and he’s Polish.
If he had opened his mouth, everybody would recognize immediately that he was Jewish. So he actually got false identity papers that said he was a former Polish soldier who would then – you know, had an injury in 1939 and was unable to hear and unable to speak and he would go around wandering and just – and that way, getting odd jobs but never talking. Sometimes in the middle of the night, he would just go out into a field or a forest just to howl, just to hear his own voice.
Meanwhile, Shmerke’s old friend was back in the ghetto. Sutzkever didn’t have the option to escape, as he had a mother and wife to look after.
David Fishman: He has a lot of close calls. The first months of the ghetto are the period of the greatest bloodletting. From September 41 until December ’41, the population of the Vilna ghetto went down from 40,000 to 20,000. In other words, half of the original inhabitants of the ghetto were murdered in four months of September until December.
On multiple occasions Sutzkever came within a hair’s width of death. Like one instance--a German raid on the ghetto.
David Fishman: he literally hid in a mortuary in the facility of the chevra kadisha of the Jewish Burial Society. He hid in a casket when the – and the Germans didn’t check the caskets
Hiding in a casket--soldiers running by like marauders--was a relative walk in the park compared with his most present, overwhelming fear.
David Fishman: his wife had been pregnant when they entered the ghetto and then in January 1942, there was a German decree that no children were to be born in the ghetto and this was effective immediately.
So – and newborn babies were murdered by the Germans usually by some kind of poisoning. Sometimes just strangulation. There were efforts to hide newborn babies. Some were successful
Just after the German decree, Sutzkever’s wife gave birth to their first born. Desperately they tried to hide the child from Nazi guards.
They did not succeed. Nazi guards found and murdered the infant on the spot, before their parents’ eyes. Quote:
"I wanted to swallow you, child,
When I felt your tiny body
Cool in my fingers.
Like a glass
Of warm tea…
I wanted to swallow you, child
The future waiting for me.
Maybe you will blossom again in my veins.
I am not worthy of you, though.
I can’t be your grave.
I leave you
To the summoning snow.
This first respite.
You’ll descend now like a splinter of dusk
Into the stillness
Bringing greetings from me
To the slim shoots
Under the cold."
By 1942 Shmerke Kaczerginski had lost a wife, and Abraham Sutzkever had lost a child. But they found purpose in what would become one of the most important tasks of their lives.
David Fishman: It’s a great paradox that the Germans on the one hand were murdering Jews in massive numbers and on the other hand, had a special agency that dealt with collecting, if one can call it that, Jewish books, manuscripts, documents. I said – I don’t know if you can call it collecting. Probably the more proper word is looting, stealing.
The Germans were interested in Jewish cultural artifacts, treasures for scholarly purposes. They had a field called Judenforschung which was the sort of Nazi science of the Jews. In other words science in the service of Nazism to prove that the Jews were depraved, were a threat to the Aryan race, the source of all evil and therefore needed to be exterminated.
Ironically enough, it was in looting remarkable artworks, novels and poetry that the Nazis sought to prove Jewish inferiority. Whatever material wasn’t used towards that end could be easily burned. So this was really A win-win for them.
The group in charge of this effort was called Einsatzstab [EIN-ZATZ-SHTAB] Reichsleiter [REICHS-LITE-ER] Rosenberg, or ERR for short.
David Fishman: the Rosenberg squad set up its operations in Vilna but quickly realized that there are just too many Jewish books and papers.
You’ve got to have a sorting process to pick what to send to Germany and everything else you will dispose of is trash. But who can do that sorting process? Well, the solution they came up with is you’re going to have slave laborers, Jewish slave laborers who will do the sorting.
Herman Kruk, a Jewish librarian, was forced to lead this taskforce. He hired other scholars, educators and artists with an eye for what should be saved--in other words, sent to Germany where it would be fodder for anti-Jewish propaganda--and what would be immediately destroyed.
Shmerke and Abraham were among those intellectuals chosen for the task. Having to organize the destruction of rare and remarkable Jewish artifacts was a kind of slow torture, but in the midst of it all, they managed to sneak away some moments of joy. Like, when a German wasn’t watching, pausing the sorting process to read a few pages of a particularly good poem or novel. Or, the best part of every day: when the Germans went out for lunch.
David Fishman: the workers are left to their own devices during the lunch hour, unsupervised. So the lunch hour is the best time of day for these slave laborers and Shmerke is famous for getting on a table and reciting poetry or singing songs or everybody does their own hobby, whatever it may be. Some of the women are knitting. The men are writing poetry. Sutzkever wrote many of his poetry sitting in that building.
Relative to the experience of other Jews at the time, sorting old books seemed like a pretty cushy job.
David Fishman: The Paper Brigade meaning the brigade made of paper, which was another kind of sort of humorous swipe at this group, which was this is the brigade made of paper, meaning it’s the brigade of these weak-bodied intellectuals. They don’t do physical work, right? So – and again this was sort of other people saying, “We do hard work and you folks, well, you’re weaklings. You just push paper.” So in that case, the nickname I guess shows that there were some tensions there. In other words, some sectors of the ghetto thought what these people are doing is a waste of time and sort of mocked it.
Neither the Paper Brigade’s German handlers nor the majority of the Jews truly understood what was going on beneath the surface.
Almost as soon as he was given the project, Herman Kruk decided that his task force would do everything in their power to sabotage their stated mission. They would be forced to destroy many books--indeed, there was no getting around that. They would have to send many to Germany, where they might be safe, or perhaps not. But, maybe, there was a third option.
Slowly, methodically, Kruk and his colleagues experimented with how to smuggle books out of the building and into hiding. They collaborated with non-Jewish friends who could help but, more often than not, were forced into riskier maneuvers.
David Fishman: broadly speaking, what they needed to do was to steal material from their worksite, from the former YIVO building and pretty much they agree that the safest place for this material was back in the ghetto.
The books could be hidden in caches--in the backrooms of houses, or inside of bunkers.
David Fishman: But getting it into the ghetto meant crossing the ghetto gate past various types of guards who did body searches
Everything stiffens up. Everyone gets nervous because you could be sent to your death for the smuggling of the slightest thing.
The risk to life wasn’t lost on members like Shmerke who, one July afternoon in 1943, escaped execution because the S.S. man Bruno Kittel decided to take a leisurely walk. It was hardly the only time he’d attempt a move so daring.
David Fishman: He took an old volume of the Talmud from the worksite, took – and instead of hiding it under his body which was really hard to do with – the volumes of the Talmud are big. He simply took it up to the guard and it was a German and he said, “You know, I work for the Paper Brigade, for the Rosenberg squad, and my German boss told me to take this book into the ghetto because the ghetto has a library and the ghetto has a bindery at the library and my boss said get this volume rebound. You know, you have a bindery there in the ghetto and then bring it back to work.”
And the German at the gate couldn’t imagine that this was totally made up, that this was a lie. Why would anybody risk their life just to say – make up a story like that? So the German actually believed him and let him through. Of course he didn’t take it to a bindery. He took it to be hidden.
In the case of the Paper Brigade, there are many stories of either – of bravery but also of luck at the gate. Sometimes they’re really very, very audacious and even just a bold-faced audacity such as Sutzkever taking a bundle of papers. These are rare documents like a manuscript by the Vilna Gaon or – and he mentions other things. He goes right up to the German guard and shows the German guard, “I have an authorization from my boss, from the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, to take in some scrap paper to the ghetto to heat in my oven. I want to – you know, it’s cold at night and my boss has permitted me to take – this is trash and scrap paper and I’m going to have this permit.” The guard lets him in. But of course it’s not trash paper. It’s not scrap paper. He’s not going to heat his oven at night. This is all rare manuscripts.
For months Shmerke, Abraham and their colleagues snuck away books like this. They saved old, rare literature, precious documents such as the Vilna synagogue record book, and the personal diary of Theodore Herzl.
Sometimes they were caught, and brutally beaten for it, but they weren’t killed and so they continued on. They continued, at least, until a few weeks after Shmerke’s close call with Bruno Kittel. That summer of ‘43, beginning in August, it became clear that their task force would soon come to an end.
David Fishman: The Vilna ghetto is winding down. Everybody is hearing that soon the ghetto will be liquidated. It means dissolved and all remaining inmates will be sent to camps or just straight to their deaths. Nobody knows for sure. That starts to happen in August 1943 and it’s quite clear that the Germans are now pushing their slave laborers to finish up. You know, there’s a – to tidy up the building and everybody knows this is the end of the Paper Brigade and probably the end of all their lives. In August, they have – paying their last visits to YIVO. Then they get orders they’re not going to be coming back in September for work, which is a clear telltale sign. It’s over.
For the members of the Paper Brigade, two things became clear. Firstly: their days of saving books were over. Second: they were probably about to die.
David Fishman: Shmerke Kaczerginski is this lively, joyous, boisterous and fundamentally optimistic person. But he looked around in the room at all these people and realized most of them were younger than him. Shmerke was then 35 and they’re all young. He’s the old man in the room and that was the first time they saw that Shmerke broke down in tears because he realized that these wonderful people, most of them young people, are not going to survive. He’s not going to survive. None of them are going to survive and that in rush of emotion at that moment and of course it has feedback because they had never seen Shmerke cry and so that’s the moment where they’re all confronting, OK, it’s over. Everything is over. The Paper Brigade is over and our lives are probably over.
Together, the Paper Brigade prepared one last book to be saved.
David Fishman: Shmerke found in the YIVO building the guestbook, the YIVO guestbook where VIPs would sign that they came in and maybe write some kind of dedication and he says, “You know what? Why don’t we all sign with some kind of dedication the guest book? We will bury it somewhere here and this will sort of be a testament to what we did.” Everybody signs and everybody writes a line or a few lines from a poem. Whatever they want to say or whatever they want to write, some people are at a loss of words. They don’t really know what to write.
Abraham Sutkever, hoping it wasn’t the last poem he’d ever write, named his entry “A Prayer to the Miracle.” Quote:
"Death is rushing, riding on a bullet head,
To tear apart in me my brightest dream.
One more second--and I’ll be lead,
If you don’t catch up, be a rein.
Catch up! If not, you will regret.
A miracle must also have a moral sense."
End quote. A few weeks later, the time had arrived.
"At 5:00 A.M. on September 23, S.S. Oberscharfuhrer Bruno Kittel entered the ghetto’s territory with a retinue of soldiers and spoke from the balcony of the Judenrat [YUD-N-RAHT] offices reading the order: the Vilna ghetto was hereby liquidated.
Several hundred Lithuanian and Ukrainian auxiliary police invaded the ghetto and stationed themselves on all of its streets.
The crowding and hysteria at the gate were unbearable. Parents lost their children [. . .] the exhausted and frightened throng walked down the long winding Subocz [SU-BOCH] Street, which was lined with soldiers in full battle gear--helmets, hand grenades, loaded rifles, and machine guns."
The German guards played jazz music on loudspeakers as they selected those who would be sent to labor and concentration camps in Estonia and Latvia. Members of the Paper Brigade were caught up, and some would be sent to their deaths.
David Fishman: Sutzkever and his wife and Shmerke too. They were members of the FPO of the partisan organization in the Vilna ghetto and the fighting organization that planned a great Vilna ghetto uprising. So because they belong to that organization, they were like other members, sort of whisked out of the ghetto a few weeks before the ghetto was finally dissolved, liquidated.
Shmerke, Abraham and his wife managed to get out of the city, and made their way into the forest.
David Fishman: life on the run is the hardest thing. You’re hiding among bushes. You’re hiding among trees. You got to get food one way or another. You have to cross some bridges and some rivers and you’re always worried about getting shot or getting discovered. But they eventually – the three of them reached territory that was under the control of partisans, of fighters under the command of the Soviets, under Soviet command
The Jews were somewhat loathed by their Soviet counterparts but, still, it was preferable to the alternative. Abraham and his wife spent months with the partisans, until they were offered a way out.
David Fishman: Sutzkever had world fame and therefore word got back to Moscow through different channels that the poet Sutzkever was in the forest and the authorities in Moscow actually sent a plane to a partisan air strip to pick up Sutzkever and his wife and take him to Moscow, to rescue them out of the forest. So Sutzkever ended up spending almost half a year in Moscow and he’s one of the first ghetto inmates of any kind to make it to Moscow and to be able to tell firsthand about what had happened in the ghetto and what about the Nazi extermination of the Jews.
Shmerke stayed behind with the fighters--for a full year surviving in the forest, fighting in small skirmishes and, in the summer of 1944, joining in an attempt to take back the city which was once his home, then his prison.
David Fishman: with a group of – a mixed group of partisans, meaning Russians, Pols, Lithuanians and Jews that retook the city, that fought street by street combat to liberate Vilna from German occupation and of course he finds the city in ruins, especially the Jewish sections, especially the former ghetto and the – he describes it as if he didn’t know where he was going. Of course he’s in daze. He’s in – you know, he recognizes the streets but there are no Jews and there are lots of dead bodies on the street.
It’s for him an utterly surreal experience.
As Shmerke fought his way through the city, he gradually approached that place he’d worked for all those months--with his friends and colleagues, celebrating and attempting to save those old books.
David Fishman: his feet just take him as if by themselves to the spot of the former YIVO building and the building is totally – has been bombed. It’s demolished
It was, perhaps, fitting. The ERR formed a Jewish work brigade to sort and destroy Jewish cultural artifacts. Now, the cultural artifact where they worked--the YIVO building--was burned to a crisp. Shmerke later wrote in his diary, quote:
“It was unrecognizable, a ruin. It seemed as if no other building in the entire city was as ruined as it was.”
End quote. The worst part, though, was that the Paper Brigade had hid many of the books they intended to save in the attic of the building. All were now no more than ash.
David Fishman: And then he goes to the – into the territory of the ghetto and he goes to the bunker, one of the hiding places where they put these books and papers
The bunker was 60 feet deep. The Paper Brigade stored a lot of their books down there, as it seemed like the safest possible spot.
When Shmerke arrived he found the place abandoned--dark, blanketed with ash and dirt. With a flashlight, he began searching for what might remain.
David Fishman: and he starts digging with his bare hands and he finds – after digging and digging, he finds a crate. He opens it up and he sees papers and books and that’s his moment of light
Against the darkness of the bunker, as the flashlight grazed over, the papers almost seemed to sparkle. Like buried treasure. Shmerke breathed a sigh of relief.
David Fishman: Everything we did wasn’t a waste. It wasn’t for naught.
Shmerke climbed back out of the bunker. The sun was blindingly bright--it really was a quite beautiful day. He didn’t quite know what to feel. Tens of thousands of Jews died in Vilna, including his friends, colleagues and his best friend’s newborn child.
“So much sunshine,” he wrote, “but the world has never been darker for me than now.”
Following the war, Shmerke Kaczerginski moved to Buenos Aires. In 1954, after lecturing in the city of Mendoza, he got on a plane ride back home. It crashed into a mountain shortly after takeoff, and there were no survivors.
Abraham Sutzkever--his oldest, best friend, and perhaps the greatest poet of the Holocaust--received the news in his new home city of Tel Aviv. He couldn’t find the words to describe the grief. 25 years later, though, he memorialized his best friend in a poem titled “With Shmerke, when forests are burning.” From ‘Yiddish Songs of the Shoah,’ by Bret Charles Werb. Quote:
"The setting is a Lithuanian forest on a cold winter night. As a fire touched off by the enemy blazes through the woods, we see Khaver Shmerke, agile as a squirrel, scrambling up a tall fir tree, itself about to explode in flame. The poet explains: his friend has scaled the flaming tree in order to take in—so as to better remember—the devastated landscape."
End quote. The poem ends with the following passage--translated, quote:
"The fir tree trembles more than he,
Its needles already on fire.
The rings have burst inside its trunk.
The fir tree has expired.
What is my comrade doing up there?
Singing a folk-like strain:
Forests are burning, tree trunks are burning,
But their roots intact remain."
That concludes the story of Abraham Sutzkever and Shmerke Kaczerginski. One thing to note in today’s episode: the old recordings you heard peppered in with the story are Shmerke’s own music—that’s his voice, all the way back from 1946. If you’d like to hear more of his work, learn more about him and Sutzkever, or the Paper Brigade, you can visit yadvashem.org. Or, check out “The Book Smugglers” by David Fishman.
This has been On the Holocaust, from Yad Vashem: the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Our program is produced by Itamar Swissa, Dani Timor and Ran Levi. Research and content management by Jonathan Clapsaddle, Irit Dagan and Dafna Dolinko. The story you heard was written by me, Nate Nelson. Thanks for listening; hit ‘Subscribe’ for more stories like this.