Examining the “Ideological Rebellion” in the diaries of two teenagers who lived during the Holocaust.

Abstract: Emma Goldman has said, “If I can’t dance to it, then it’s not my revolution”. Revolutions have diverse origins, forms, and manifestations – all chartered on the face of earth by any human hand, which is able to afford ink and paper. The present paper seeks to locate the sense and sensibilities of “Revolution” in the “Holocaust Diaries” of two Jewish teenagers – Yitzhak Rudashevski, and Moshe Flinker who lived in Eastern Europe and the Low Countries during the Second World War. Though not as vivid as Anne Frank’s diary, their journals document the spread of belligerent ideology (militant Communism, Anti-Semitism, Ideas of Democracy, etc.) in the war years, and the reception of those ideas in areas far removed from the main theaters of war. Their journals are expressions of contemporary (young) Jewish dissent, and reflect the countenance of an advanced and modern ethnicity; which has been swept under the carpet by unsympathetic Nazi propaganda. The paper will attempt to trace the concept of “Revolution” in the minds of these young teenagers, their reception of the ideas, and the enacting of the derived ‘ideals’. It is an attempt to bring to light the “ideological and silent rebellion” in the mind of the teenager in Nazi – occupied Europe: ‘areas’ that have been analysed by providing primacy to Anne Frank’s diary, neglected in scholarship, and entertained as mere ‘wartime stories’ aimed as stereotyping the ‘characters’ who lived in the perilous time.

Keywords: Holocaust; Journals; Teenager; Mind; Yitzhak Rudashevski; Moshe Flinker; Ideological Revolution; Silent Rebellion; Nazi; Europe.

In 1925 when Hitler started writing his autobiography, he filled it with disillusionment, frenzied German patriotism, a crippling antagonism for the unhappy alliance of the young German Reich, and the illusionary Hapsburg State, and above all the promise that he “will protest against the fantasies of pacifist ranters, who in reality are nothing better than cowardly egoists, even though camouflaged, who contradict the laws of human development”[1]. Almost two decades later, he went on to inflict a similar sentiment of delegacy on the European countries; armed with ruthless aggression, and conceited faith in a paradox coated ideology. The most notorious of the war crimes included his dutifully striving to eliminate the Jewish “scapegoat” in the process of creating the “Aryan Homeland”; but this unwittingly forged the hors d’oeuvre to faithfully capture his brutality. The Jew wrote, scribbled, composed and stitched in protest – creating a plethora of accounts that spoke of the horrors of the Holocaust. Where physical rebellion waned, mental dissent stepped in; and the battleground proved more than a mere fray of shellshocks, and sub-machine guns – it was the struggle of an ‘alternative’ ideology against the Hitlerite ideology. The ‘roads not taken’ were enacted out, battering out the Aryan State; and delivering proof of tenacious survival in the face of atrocity.

Mapping the Holocaust …

The purpose of this paper is to dwell on two teenage ‘patrons’ of alternate ideologies in the Nazi occupied territories of Europe: Yitzhak Rudashevski, and Moshe Flinker. They were the “black-haired Jewish youth [lying] in wait for hours on end, satanically glaring at and spying on the unsuspicious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood and removing her from the bosom of her own people”[2]. They were the part and parcel of the Jewish youth who dealt in dangerous ideas and ideals, as Arnold Leese puts it:

The general plan is to penetrate every effective means of influencing what is called “public opinion” and then to wear down the morale of his unsuspecting enemy and host by means of unsound ideas: Of these, “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,” “no distinction of race, creed or colour,” are the principal shibboleths used to appeal to the inferiority complex of the mob to promote the tolerance of the Jewish influence in our midst. On the Liberal and Socialistic foundations thus secured, they build up Marxism, Bolshevism, perverted forms of Christianity, and anti-Nationalism disguised as Internationalism, all for the destruction of Gentile civilization. Through control, direct and indirect, over the Press, the Cinema, the Wireless and the doctrines of masonry, a censorship is imposed upon anyone who has become aware of what is going on and attempts to sound a warning … The ultimate objective appears to be a world dominated by Jewish influence supported by an oriental capacity for hatred towards one’s opponents and a desire for revenge which it is difficult for the Aryan people to understand.[3]

Particularly Journalism, an expression of the intellect, in the hands of the Jews was considered “a weapon highly suited to meet their needs in their war of survival.[4] These two teenagers maintained journals, documenting their lives as accurately as possible, and more so the oppression, humiliation, and deprivation. The diaries[5] reflect a unique fragment of their respective author’s lives, but taken together, they provide an unbroken (albeit varied) and grave inquiry into the reasons behind the war, the nature of human sufferings, the moral and ethical dimensions of persecution, and the combat of hope and despair. What’s of interest here is that, in the absence of physical channels of happiness, they held onto ideas that catered specifically to the essentiality of survival under impossible circumstances; a claim demonstrated by the contents of the diaries of the said teenagers. Yitzhak of Vilna (Lithuania) had communism; and Moshe of The Hague (Holland) prided his religion and the ideologies that came with it. Despite being composed by ‘confined’ authors – Yitzhak wrote as a ghetto inmates, Moshe wrote in hiding – the journals speak for themselves, portraying flamboyantly an advanced race in the heartland of Nazi tyranny; in their reflection of the contemporary Jewish mind-set. Exhibiting a picture very different from what the ruling propaganda advocated, the accounts are far from the ‘indifferent’ diaries of the brain-drained Hitlerite youth like Brigitte Eicke, or Helga Weiss, who ‘were cogs in the wheel that kept the Nazi State turning’[6]. These were written with the hindsight of a scrutinizing, and intellectual young generation, who were conscious of their perilous ‘heresy’, yet unafraid to speak their radical, uncensored minds. The ideologies in their diaries constituted a rebellion in themselves; a last resort against the dictatorial regime’s ideology that looked to a traditional and historical mirage, superficial racism, and wanton inhumanity to sustain itself.

Yitzhak Rudashevski of Vilna.

Indeed, Yitzhak Rudashevski’s embracing of communism is a reflection of the affection that Jewish Vilna reserved for Soviet rule, one as injuriously bigoted[7] as the Nazis. Given that the sixteen year old (1927-1943) was a product of the intellectual hubbub of Judaism, which accommodated the “sun of the Stalinist Constitution”[8] in a new curriculum that advocated the revival of the Hebrew Yiddish, as well as modernity that ‘shook off the dusts of the past without forsaking the Jewishness’[9]; it is no surprise that he writes in Yiddish about how ‘he ran several kilometres to meet the first Soviet tanks’[10] in the summer of 1940. He modelled himself as a communist, wore the red star, necktie and red scarf of the Pioneers, joined communist scouting rallies, and even vowed to “see that the calm Red Army soldier standing guard in (their) yard will not perish”[11]. He devoured Communist novels like The Doctor’s Plot and the Soviet Solution, The Hero in Chains, and Bernard Kellermann’s The Ninth of November, even dedicating an admiring composition of his Communist Gospels in his diary:

We see the whole horror of which puts such a dark stamp on human life. The Ninth of November, that is the day when the German people, the exhausted soldiers of the front, raised the red flag of freedom. The wrath of the people spilled over into the famished streets. Ackermann, the hero of the book, the front soldier with three wounds in his broad unbuttoned coat – how beautifully, how idealistically his soldier image appears in the light of the revolution! I copied many splendid excerpts; strong, eternal words which proclaim the freedom of nations.[12]

This was the foremost aspectual of Communism that drew Yitzhak to it – its political tone which sung against hate and exploitation, and Anti – Semitism. Taking after the principal of his school, Mira Bernshteyn, he saw Communism as a bulwark against Nazism, and the path for revival of Yiddish culture and schools; and rallied against the Lithuanian and Polish population who welcomed the Germans in 1941. The Communists retreated, and with them, his inspiration; yet he “lived with tomorrow/ Not with today”[13]. He was soon moved to the Vilna ghetto, robbed of his dear learning and freedom; but he kept himself busy with the journaling of his ghetto life (of the mad craze of the Shayne[14], the desperation for maline[15], the mortal “Pink Pass Action”[16], the terror struck by German supervisors, and the humiliating subjugation of his peer inmates), and giving innocent expression to his intellectuality[17] (manning a literary club, editing the newspaper Within Walls, Yet Young, and recording ghetto folklore, Yiddish poetry, and personal interviews). Behind the façade, he actively engaged himself in the discipline and conspiracy of the resistant F.P.O. He aided the poets Abba Kovner, and Abraham Sutzkever in transporting clothing collected from the Vilna residents for the German depot, to the Soviet prisoners of war interned outside the ghetto. Again he acted as the others around him, inflamed by communist loyalty, and hopeful of communist encouragement to the militant organization. Unfortunately for Yitzhak, his tenacious fidelity must have wavered at the long wait for the glorious Soviet saviour; a despair that echoed in the final words of his diary – “We may be fated for the worst”[18].

Moshe Flinker of Holland.

Yitzhak’s diary surprisingly never features the consolation of religion. He reflects on the Jewish past, simultaneously challenging and befriending it: humans prominently feature in his account, never the Divine. He thrives on intellectualism, supporting the cultural body and soul of the ghetto; religion comes across as silently naught, for which he fails to see the logic of Hitler’s Anti-Semitism. Quite contrarily, Moshe “Harry” Flinker’s journal hinges on zealous Jewish religiosity[19]; which he, himself, acknowledges – “Obviously my outlook is a religious one. I hope to be excused for this, for had I not religion; I would never find answer to the problems that confront me”[20]. His ‘diary reads like a book from the Old Testament’[21]:

Our sufferings have by far exceeded our wrongdoings. What other purpose could the Lord have in allowing such things to befall us? I feel certain that further troubles will not bring any Jew back to the paths of righteousness; on the contrary, I think that upon experiencing such great anguish, they will think that there is no God at all in the universe, because had there been a God, He would not have let such things happen to His people. I have heard this said many times already – and indeed, what can God intend by all these calamities that are happening to us in this terrible period? It seems to me that the time has come for our redemption, or rather, that we are more or less worthy of being redeemed.[22]

Like Hitler, he believed that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and the Jewish Question was simply His will to test their patience. He questioned the purpose of the persecutions, and like the ‘good Dutch protestant’ he professed to be, concentrated all his hope on religious redemption .i.e., salvation through God. In Moshe’s eyes, ‘the very magnitude of the catastrophe was proof that deliverance was at hand’[23], for which he half-heartedly blames the Nazis. He rallied against the Allies, and against the Jews, accusing them of not having sinned enough to deserve salvation. His other concern was the spirituality of the passive and gay people around him, who had turned a deaf ear to the horrors of the war. He held the Hitlerite youth in the deepest disregard –

I asked myself what are the real spiritual values of these boys and girls who may well be regarded as a typical sample … While millions more risk their lives for the sake of ideas, whether correct or distorted but at least with the honest and consecrated intention of ensuring the world a better future – at the same time, these boys and girls sit there and by their expressions you would never guess that anything had happened in the world or that lawlessness and violence are the order of the day. Shallow youth, with neither ideas nor ideals, without any kind of content whatever, really completely worthless.[24]

In his mind, the ‘casual’ response of the non-Jewish youth set them apart from the suffering “youth of the [Jewish] nation, when its young girls no longer laugh, and its young men are melancholy”[25], thus compelling the need of a “Promised Land” .i.e., Israel of Biblical fame. This entry spearheaded his passionate Zionism[26], and the subsequent journal entries would betray his blaming of the exile-mindedness of the Jewry for failing to bargain for a Jewish homeland; as well as his ambition of becoming “a Jewish statesman in the Land of Israel”[27]. In fact, he unconsciously linked spiritual and territorial freedom, in his spiritual ‘torment’ and with the stroke of a pen:

The name of the almanac is “My Homeland”. Each time I stand to say the Eighteen Benedictions, I direct my whole soul to my lovely land, and I see it before my eyes; I see the coast, I see Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Haifa. Then I see Jerusalem, with the Mount of Olives, and I see the Jordan as it flows from Lebanon to the Dead Sea. I visualize all this when I stand to pray … Oh, how my soul earns for you, my homeland, how my eyes crave for the sight of you, my country, the Land of Israel.[28]

Nonetheless, like Yitzhak, Moshe soon ran out of conviction, especially his faith that God would deliver the redemption of his children. His final undated entry in the diary reads – “Two thousand year have we brought into this world, children who are doomed to suffer. Lord our God, is Lord of Israel? … Pity us, have mercy, Lord, on Thy people, do not tarry, do not wait, for soon it will be too late.”[29]

Yitzhak and Moshe’s diaries are remarkable testimonies to the Holocaust. These two accounts are chosen for analysis (in the paper) because of their subjective portrayal of two lives, albeit disgraced, in an imprisoned ghetto, and in deliberate hiding. The two protagonists seek out ‘paradoxical’ means, aspectual of Semitism, to clash against a common enemy – the Hitlerite ideology of the Nazi State. The former’s intellectual ventures, and the latter’s pious musings act as the respective reason to fight the depressing hours; yet both complain of “emptiness”[30]. They grasp the reason behind their subjugated humiliation – Jewishness – and question it. At times, they unanimously fail to ‘appreciate’ their own history; in others, they console themselves with a tough fidelity. This perception of the Jewish identity is central to the interpretation of the new racial (race for religion) order in Europe, and their justification for the contemporary plight of the Jewry in states like Germany, Poland, Russia, etc. Both accounts echo a similar tone of ‘hesitant looking back’ to their past for consolation –

Yitzhak: We have a court, prosecutor, defence counsel, defendant, and a whole succession of persons from history who serves as witnesses. Now the hardest task is … to work out the indictment and to prepare a series of questions for the witnesses on behalf of the prosecution.[31]

Moshe: Every time I read those chapters that speak of the future, of the end of days, of the time of Israel’s troubles, I feel every letter, from every single part of every letter, these words refer to the present.[32]

Both attempt at a ‘reconfigured’ tailor-made past to accommodate those ideologies they find solace in; nothing different from Hitler. Yitzhak is reminiscent of the legitimizing power of the Jewish Past, much like Hitler who states – “Was the Germany of the past a country of little worth? Did she not owe a certain duty to her own history? Were we still worthy to partake in the glory of the past?”[33] Moshe thinks of the Fatherland of Israel (a state yet to be created when he was journaling), establishing a concurrent, virtual imagery of his liberated land on scriptural descriptions; much like Hitler’s Aryan Homeland. Both partake in passionate aggressive nationalism hankering for Lebensraum[34] – Hitler’s Nazism, and Moshe’s Zionism hardly comprise a differential overview. Secondly, with the true ignorant fervour of the Fuhrer, both fail to find faults with the objects of their idealization. The Soviet crimes committed on the Jewry of Vilna appear nowhere in the young communist’s account. Moshe’s religiosity could do no wrong: to him, the Jews are the divinely chosen lot suffering in the hands of others for no fault of their own. Appearing faithful to one’s conviction isn’t the fault; it is the total elimination of the possibility of any flaw in their system of beliefs. The Second World War was an uncertain time for certain ideas, and staunch cognition. Perhaps, all got caught up in the game!

BeFunky Collageddd
The Holocaust: A Story of unspeakable inhumanity!

Neither Yitzhak, nor Moshe speaks of a “revolution”; in fact, their journals don’t even betray rebel tendencies. Their advocated ideologies are those of the enemy; but they can hardly be branded revolutionary. Their rebellion[35] is the continued adherence to a dangerous religion, and culture. Unlike the Hitlerite youth who embraced the unilinear “Aryan” narrative as imposed by the State, and their Elders; these Jewish children questioned the ‘underlying story that relates their origins, gives their lives meaning and determines their place in the world’[36] aka the mythical dimension of not just religious Judaism, but also political Nazism. The Jews were the first ones who ‘gave the world meaning in history in that they were the first people to invest their story of origin with historical importance’[37] – this made them an easy target for Hitler, for he had accusation roped on the historic imperial. They desperately searched for the more feeling, progressive “alternative” to the existing ideology and peer plight. Their greatest “revolutionary” legacy is their mode of ‘ironic’ observation .i.e., detached wonderment.


[1] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Delhi: K.R.J Book International, 2006), 257.

[2] Ibid., 264.

[3] Excerpt from “The Jews Declare War” in Arnold Leese, The Jewish War of Survival (Berlin, 1945), 32.

[4] Ibid.

[5] There are three categories of children’s journalism during the Holocaust: journals written by refugees/partisans who escaped the German-controlled territories, in hiding, or as ghetto and concentration camp inmates. See Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Children’s Diaries During the Holocaust” (accessed March 21 2017), https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007952.

[6] See Tony Paterson, “Diary of Second World War German teenager reveals young lives untroubled by Nazi Holocaust in wartime Berlin”, Independent, June 15 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/diary-of-second-world-war-german-teenager-reveals-young-lives-untroubled-by-nazi-holocaust-in-8660484.html.

[7] The Soviet occupation of Vilna saw a repression of the Jewish community there. They banned organizations, political parties, and publications; as well as prohibited the teaching of Hebrew and Jewish History. The new laws seized Jewish property, leaving them poor and vulnerable. Also thousands of the Jews were deported to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and other inhospitable parts of Siberia. See Jacob Boas, We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1996), pp.41-42.

[8] Yitskhok Rudashevski, The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto: June 1941 – April 1943 (Israel: Ghetto Fighters’ House and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, 1973), 18.

[9] Boas, We Are Witnesses, 40.

[10] Ibid., 42.

[11] Rudashevski, The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto, 31.

[12] Boas, We Are Witnesses, 42.

[13] Ibid., 63.

[14] The Shayne (in Yiddish) was a special work certificate that the Vilna ghetto inmates needed to secure a job. The certificates came in various formats (with or without photographs), colours (white, pink, blue, green, violet, red, yellow), and other combinations. The certificates granted ‘immunity’ to the holder, the spouse, and two children. Yitzhak notes how his father acquired, with difficulty, a white Shayne in early 1941 for a job at a munitions storehouse; nonetheless the white ‘colour of life’ got replaced by yellow in mid-October. The ever-changing certificates with the equally fluid legal treatment of the Jews magnified the psychological blow the Ghetto, as an institution, dealt on the Jewish identity and unity in Vilna. The lapse of each certificate’s tenure saw thousands of Jews deported, killed, and kidnapped, or the eruption of chaos and crime within the community itself. The Jews pleaded, bribed, married, and killed for the expensive permits, whose price jumped from 50 rubles to 15000 rubles. In fact, the certificates delivered the accusation of ‘illegal existence’ in a silver platter to the Nazis, and created motives behind the inhumane purges. Each purge had an established quota for the number of Jews to be killed on a certain day. The gathering of the Jews to meet the said quota was the “Action” that met it fatal conclusion at the forest of Ponar. See Scott Noar, “Story of the Vilna Ghetto”, Noar Family, April 10 2001, http://www.noarfamily.net/Vilnaghetto.html.

[15] Yiddish for “hideout”.

[16] The Pink Pass was another of the ‘life permits’ that was introduced in the Vilna Ghetto in November 1941. In December of the same year, the round-up of people without the Pink Shayne was initiated, and it claimed another thousand lives, raising the total number of Jews killed since the beginning of the German occupation to 33, 500. This came to be infamously dubbed the “Pink Pass Action”. See Boas, We Are Witnesses, pp.56-57.

[17] Hitler wrote of his 1908 Vienna sojourn in the Mein Kampf – “I am thankful for that period of my life, because it hardened me and enabled me to be as tough as I now am … I was handed over to Adversary as to a new mother … It was during this period that my eyes were opened to the two perils of Marxism and Judaism”. See Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp.33-34. His notion of Marxism was shaped by the poverty and work force unrest at the Austrian metropolitan capital, and the dealing of that unrest by the Austrian State; the concept of Judaism evolved, as he writes, from “the Jewish activities in the Press, in art, in literature, and the theatre … [that inflicted] a moral pestilence, with which the public was being infected. It was worse than the Black Plague of long ago.” See Ibid., 62. It was this cultural ‘streak of objection’ that the Vilna Jews choose to exert their rebelliousness. Obviously, to Yitzhak, the Jew was a ‘cultural entity’ absorbed in cultural pursuits; this was the dominant perception of their enemies as well. Interestingly, like Hitler, Yitzhak is seen to undergo a similar development of ideologies at the Vilna metropolis. He used the cultural paradigms to assert his defiance; much like Hitler who attempted to engage himself with art and publishing during his Vienna days. In a way, both drew from the cultural environment around them, interpreting observations with political convictions.

[18] Rudashevski, The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto, 98.

[19] Moshe’s journal has abundant description of the Jew as a “religious entity” and not a “racial” one. He wrote in classical Hebrew, used the Hebrew calendar, and quoted Jewish hymns in his entries. He believed that he was a Jew in exile, and the Jewish God would send a Messiah for the redemption from the Nazi persecutions. Possibly, it was a conscious defiance of the new and dominant race hierarchy – a rebellion generated from faith, and not diplomacy.

[20] Geoffrey Wigoder (ed.), Young Moshe’s Diary: The Spiritual Torment of a Jewish Boy in Nazi Europe (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1971), 28.

[21] Boas, We Are Witnesses, 84.

[22] Wigoder, Young Moshe’s Diary, 113.

[23] Boas, We Are Witnesses, 88.

[24] Ibid., 95.

[25] Ibid., 101.

[26] Unlike Yitzhak, Moshe’s Zionism ran knee deep; though his brand of Zionism was more religious than political! This is demonstrative in the employment of the Jewish prayers and hymns in his writings. Both in concentration camps and the ghettos, most of the poets created poetry less as a means of self-expression than as succour, a vehicle of mitigating daily disasters. This phenomenon reflects the tradition of Jewish literature that responded to over two millennia of Jewish suffering with poetry, threnodies, and liturgy of consolation. Interestingly, consolation was drawn from earlier paradigms of calamity: Even when the catastrophe was perceived as being unprecedented, the historical song, with its use of biblical quotations, its liturgical framework and its theodicy, all served to console the listener, to mitigate the disaster, to render the actual, time-bound event into something trans-temporal. This is because, in the traditional Jewish view, the greater the scope of the destruction, the more it recalls historical precedent. The concerns of these poems are similar to those in the Holocaust- namely, the eternal suffering as a major component in Jewish history and the role of the Jewish God during the greatest tragedy in that history. The poetry that confronts the impending destruction has profundity, maturity of feeling, artistic quality, nostalgia and yearning for freedom, for the lost pre-war world. Poems put to music were especially popular in the Holocaust. This phenomenon reflects the Yiddish folk tradition, for as “Dos lid, dos glaykhvertl, dem sharfn vits-hobn bagleyt dem Yiddn shtendik un umetum: yen er iz gegangen tsu der arbet, yen er iz geshtanen in rey nokh a shisele zup, yen men hot im gefirt tsu der shkhite, un yen er iz gegangen in kamf”: The song, the proverb, the witty joke, have always and everywhere accompanied the Jew: when he went to work, when he waited on a soupline, when he was driven to the slaughter, and when he marched in combat.” See Frieda Aaron, Bearing the Unbearable: Yiddish and Polish Poetry in the Ghettoes and Concentration Camps (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990), pp. 1-15. One can say cherishing poetry was an essential part of 20th century Zionism, and Moshe followed in the footsteps. He wasn’t, however, remotely involved with political Zionism; compared to Yitzhak who actively worked with the F.P.O.

[27] Ibid., 110.

[28] Ibid., 107.

[29] Ibid., 113.

[30] Both talks of “emptiness” – indeed they have sensed void in Yitzhak’s love for learning and Moshe’s spirituality. In another sense, they are talking of the emptiness of negative emotions that have descended on the Jewish race with the Holocaust.

[31] Rudashevski, The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto, 141. Yitzhak writes the above lines on November 11, 1942 in reference to the preparation of a school assignment concerning the public trial of the historic Herod. It was a mock trial carried out by some prominent ghetto inmates (a committee of teachers, historians and elders) on December 21, 1942. He had made the first speech for the prosecution, whilst the director of his school, Leyb Turbovitsh had been the defendant; the committee ruled Herod to be guilty despite his good intentions toward the welfare of the Biblical Jewry. In fact, the trial was a veiled accusation of Jacob Gens, the chief of the Judenrat (the Jewish council of the Vilna Ghetto) who frequently resorted to the “Trolley Dilemma” to save the Vilna Jewry.

[32] Wigoder, Young Moshe’s Diary, 137.

[33] Hitler, Mein Kampf, 181.

[34] German for “living space”. The geo-political concept of ‘inevitable expansion’, Lebensraum was incorporated in the Nazi ideology and provided a racist justification for territorial expansion to manage population, reserve resources, and uphold the honour of the German race. See Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia, s.v. “Lebensraum” (accessed March 9 2017) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum.

[35] The ‘activities’, physical and mental, recorded in the two journals are rebellious in accordance to Hegel’s (Yitzhak), and Marx’s (Moshe) philosophical standards of rebellion. Hegel’s philosophy combined a deep commitment to human freedom with a profoundly historical sensibility embracing the notion that reality unfolds and moves forward through the interaction of contradictory tendencies. Each of these tendencies contain elements of “truth” that can only be understood adequately as part of a complex, multi-faceted, always-evolving totality. Hegel developed concepts and categories to help comprehend the almost impossibly complex, dynamic, contradictory reality in which all of us are enmeshed. On the other hand, Hegel’s philosophical idealism gives primacy to the intellectual constructs, with actual realities represented as manifestations of the abstract principles contained in the realm of ideas. ‘Starting from the necessity of conceptual thought, Hegel ended with a system in which one category automatically produces another until a whole system results which, it is claimed, ‘must’ be an adequate account of reality, The basically idealist thrust of his philosophy did not simply result in his claim that ideas were the moving force in the world. Ironically, it also forced him into crude, deterministic assertions about the empirical world as well.’ Yitzhak’s lavish vignettes of a melancholic ghetto embroiled in the pursuit of ‘cultural rebellion’ are thus a constructed reality in the provided philosophical parameter. On the other hand, Marx’s and Engel’s dialectic concept of totality, change, and contradiction can be seen in Moshe’s explanation for the cause of Jewish misery, the culmination of their sufferings, and redemption of the Jewry in a new era ushered by a divine Messiah. This materialist conception of history (and rebellion) is grounded in this analytical approach: Society is taken to be in a process of constant change. Such change involves the totality of relations – economic, political, ideological, and cultural – of which the society is composed. This process of total change is a result of internal contradictions, manifested as class antagonism, which reconstitute society anew by both transforming and renewing the forces that first gave rise to the initial contradiction. See John Rees, The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition (New York: Routledge, 1998).

[36] Jocelyn Hellig, The Holocaust and Anti-Semitism: A Short History (Oxford: One World Publications, 2003), 100.

[37] Ibid., 225.


Leese, Arnold. The Jewish War of Survival. Berlin: Unknown Publisher, 1945.

Wigoder, Geoffrey. (ed.). Young Moshe’s Diary: The Spiritual Torment of a Jewish Boy in Nazi Europe. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1971.

Rudashevski, Yitskhok. The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto: June 1941 – April 1943. Israel: Ghetto Fighters’ House and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, 1973.

Aaron, Frieda. Bearing the Unbearable: Yiddish and Polish Poetry in the Ghettoes and Concentration Camps. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

Boas, Jacob. We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1996.

Rees, John. The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Noar, Scott. “Story of the Vilna Ghetto”, Noar Family, April 10 2001, http://www.noarfamily.net/Vilnaghetto.html.

Hellig, Jocelyn. The Holocaust and Anti-Semitism: A Short History. Oxford: One World Publications, 2003.

Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Delhi: K.R.J Book International, 2006.

Paterson, Tony. “Diary of Second World War German teenager reveals young lives untroubled by Nazi Holocaust in wartime Berlin”, Independent, June 15 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/diary-of-second-world-war-german-teenager-reveals-young-lives-untroubled-by-nazi-holocaust-in-8660484.html.

Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Children’s Diaries During the Holocaust” (accessed March 21 2017), https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007952.

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. “Lebensraum” (accessed March 9 2017) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum.


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