Education and Culture in the Vilna Ghetto

(1942)


Thursday the 22nd [October 1942]

The days pass quickly. Having finished my few lessons, I began to do a little housework. I read a book, wrote the diary, and off to class....

Our youth works and does not perish. Our history group works. We listen to lectures about the great French Revolution, about its periods. The second section of the history group, ghetto history, is also busy. We are investigating the history of Courtyard Shavli 4. For this purpose questionnaires have been distributed among the members, with questions that have to be asked of the courtyard residents. We have already begun the work. I go with a friend. The questions are divided into four parts: question relating to the period of Polish, Soviet and German rule (up until the ghetto), and in the ghetto. The residents answer in different ways. Everywhere, however, the same sad ghetto song: property, certificates, hide-outs, the loss of things, the loss of relatives. I got a taste of a historian’s task. I sit at the table and ask questions and record the greatest sufferings with cold objectivity. I write, I probe into details, and I do not realize at all that I am probing into wounds, and the one who answers me indifferent to it: two sons and a husband taken away the sons Monday, the husband Thursday... And this horror, this tragedy is formulated by me in three words, coldly and dryly. I become absorbed in thought, and the words stare out of the paper crimson with blood....

 

Sunday the 13th [December 1942]...

Today the ghetto celebrated the circulation of the 100,000th book in the ghetto library. The festival was held in the auditorium of the theater. We came from our lessons. Various speeches were made and there was also an artistic program. The speakers analyzed the ghetto reader. Hundreds of people read in the ghetto. The reading of books in the ghetto is the greatest pleasure for me. The book unites us with the future, the book unites us with the world. The circulation of the 100,000th book is a great achievement for the ghetto, and the ghetto has the right to be proud of it.

 

Y. Rudashevski, The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto, Tel Aviv, 1973, pp. 72-73, 106.


Source: Yad Vashem