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Holy Week

A Novel of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Jerzy Andrzejewski

Publication Year: 2007

At the height of the Nazi extermination campaign in the Warsaw Ghetto, a young Jewish woman, Irena, seeks the protection of her former lover, a young architect, Jan Malecki. By taking her in, he puts his own life and the safety of his family at risk. Over a four-day period, Tuesday through Friday of Holy Week 1943, as Irena becomes increasinglytraumatized by her situation, Malecki questions his decision to shelter Irena in the apartment where Malecki, his pregnant wife, and his younger brotherreside. Added to his dilemma is the broader context of Poles’ attitudes toward the “Jewish question” and the plight of the Jews locked in the ghetto duringthe final moments of its existence.Few fictional works dealing with the war have been written so close in time to the events that inspired them. No other Polish novel treats the range of Polish attitudes toward the Jews with such unflinching honesty.Jerzy Andrzejewski’s Holy Week (Wielki Tydzien, 1945), one of the significant literary works to be published immediately following the Second World War, now appears in English for the first time.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

As a brilliant novelist and prose writer, Jerzy Andrzejewski is a rare specimen in the firmament of Polish literature, which abounds in extraordinarily talented poets. Two of his contemporaries, Czesêaw Miêosz and Wisêawa Szymborska, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 and 1996 respectively...

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Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. xi-xii

Jerzy Andrzejewski may be best known in the West as the author of the screenplay for Ashes and Diamonds, the great postwar film by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. Andrzejewski, though, was a monumental figure in post–World War II Polish literature with both a broad canon of work in literature...

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Acknowledgments and Notes on the Translation

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pp. xiii

This translation of Jerzy Andrzejewski’s Holy Week began as a group project in an advanced Polish language course at the University of Pittsburgh. Class members Daniel M. Pennell, Anna M. Poukish, and Matthew J. Russin contributed to the translation; the instructor, Oscar E. Swan, was...

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Note on the Author

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pp. xv-xvi

Jerzy Andrzejewski (1909–83), one of modern Poland’s most versatile prose writers and one of the best known outside Poland, was born in Warsaw. He attended the University of Warsaw from 1927 to 1931, where he majored in Polish literature but left without receiving a degree. His first...

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Note on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

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pp. xvii-xviii

In the summer of 1942, around three hundred thousand Jews were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka. When reports of the mass murder of the deportees leaked back, a group of survivors formed the Jewish Fighting Organization (Ÿydowska Organizacja Bojowa) under the command...

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Introduction. Jerzy Andrzejewski’s Holy Week

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pp. xix-xxiv

Jerzy Andrzejewski’s novel Holy Week deserves recognition as one of the most significant literary works to appear in Poland in the years immediately after the war. Its absorbing and tightly knit plot, its nearly documentary realism, and the momentous nature of the subject matter—the Warsaw...

Guide to Pronunciation

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pp. xxv

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-6

Jan Malecki had not seen Irena Lilien for quite some time. As late as the summer of 1941, they still had seen a good deal of each other. By that time, the Liliens had been driven out of their home in Smug; but the German occupation authorities were not yet taking harsher measures against the Jews, so...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 7-55

It was a gloomy Holy Week for Warsaw. Just the day before Malecki’s encounter with Irena, on Monday the nineteenth of April, some of the Jews still remaining in the ghetto had begun to defend themselves against new German repressions. In the early morning, as SS1 detachments moved inside...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 56-77

By the next day the fires had spread. At first it was difficult to determine who had set fire to the houses: the Germans or the Jews withdrawing from the walls into the heart of the ghetto. Later it turned out to have been the Germans....

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Chapter 4

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pp. 78-104

All through the next day the battle in the ghetto continued unabated. The insurgents defended themselves ferociously and strategically, contesting every street and individual housing block. The Nazis called in detachments of Latvian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian soldiers to aid them. They...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 105-125

Good Friday arrived, the fifth day of the insurgents’ resistance. Fires burrowed ever more deeply into the heart of the ghetto. Amid the smoke and blaze, ceaseless gunfire resounded, and the dry rattle of machine-gun and automatic riffle fire rang out without pause....

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Afterword. Andrzej Wajda’s Film Holy Week

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pp. 127-144

Andrzej Wajda’s 1995 film Holy Week has an unusual position in Wajda’s total work for being an almost total box-office flop. Viewership in Poland during its run in cinemas was estimated at an astonishingly low eight thousand.1 Among its few awards was a special commendation at the 46th...


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pp. 145-149

E-ISBN-13: 9780821442203
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821417164

Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Warsaw (Poland) -- History -- Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1943 -- Fiction.
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