Historical Context

From: Yitskhok Rudashevski. The Diary of the Vilna Ghetto
June 1941 – April 1943”.

Beit Lohamei Haghetaot Ghetto Fighters' House and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, 1979

Before us is the diary of a Jewish boy who died 25 years ago just after the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto. His name was Yitskhok Rudashevski (or Itsele as he used to be called in the family). He was the only child of the parents who had settled in Vilnius in 1923. His father Elihu was from a small Lithuanian town and worked as a lino operator in the publishing house of the well known newspaper Vilner Tog. His mother Roza was from Chişinău. She was a seamstress and continued working as a seamstress in the ghetto. Yitskhok’s childhood was fairly comfortable. Strong, united and tight family took care of the education and cultural enlightenment of their only son. Yitskhok was attached to his grandmother on his mother’s side who was living with them. Yitskhok was deeply affected by the parting with her due to the cruel ghetto conditions.
When the German army entered Vilnius, Yitskhok was merely 14 years old. In the 10 December 1942 entry of his diary, the boy writes about himself: “I suddenly realised that today was my birthday. I have just turned 15.” According to Yitskhok’s cousin and school fellow Sore Voloshin-Kalivatsh, before the war Yitskhok finished six grades of the primary school and the first grade of the Real Gymnasium, which was distinguished for its high educational standards and serious educational atmosphere. This is what she tells about the years spent in the school with Yitskhok: “He was a very talented boy, a good and diligent student. He could see into anything he studied. He excelled in all classes, but was mostly fascinated by literature and history. His writings always were the most interesting – he obviously already had aptitude for writing. Later, during the two years spent in the ghetto, Yitskhok’s inherent talents developed even further – he was very successful in coteries of literature, history and natural sciences. In these coteries, he got an opportunity to give comprehensive lectures and reports.” We can also add that Yitskhok was an active member of the ghetto folklore coterie and helped make social polls in the ghetto.
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