This essay discusses the memoir Knekht zenen mir geven (Buenos Aires, 1956), by Avrom Zak (1891–1980), a Polish-Yiddish journalist, poet, and prose writer who survived WWII in the Soviet Union. While in the USSR, he was deported in summer 1940 to a forced labor camp in the Republic of Komi, where he spent more than a year. The essay focuses on the reconstruction of the existential experience that Zak's memoirs contain against the backdrop of the memoirs of Polish Gulag prisoners who, unlike the Jewish prisoners, have already become the subject of extensive research by literary historians. Moreover, the essay addresses the uniqueness of the Jewish experience. Yiddish memoirs of Polish Jews who were prisoners of Soviet forced labor camps during WWII, heretofore absent from studies of so-called Gulag literature and/or Soviet exile literature and, in a broader sense, from Holocaust studies, are still waiting to become incorporated into that discussion. It is only by collecting the greatest possible corpus of testimonies that we shall be able to reconstruct a wider image of the Soviet aspect of the Jewish experience of WWII.


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pp. 130-154
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