Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fascinating New Memoir of Life in the Ghetto

A Physician Inside the Warsaw Ghetto, 1939-1943

by Mordechai Lensky

In this fascinating first-hand account, Mordechai Lensky, a Jewish doctor in the Warsaw ghetto, struggles against all odds to provide medical care to a community condemned by the Germans to squalor, disease, and death. Lensky’s observations on the ghetto are both sympathetic and sober. He does not gloss over difficult subjects, such as the fact that some of the doctors became corrupt and callous. Lensky himself keenly felt the tension between his moral obligations as a respected professional and his human desire to provide for his family and survive the war. The memoir also provides singular insights into many aspects of ghetto life, including an important account of a hitherto neglected aspect of Jewish resistance-the massive building of bunkers in late 1942 and early 1943.

The Lensky family escaped the ghetto in March 1943 and hid on the “Aryan” side of Warsaw under assumed identities with the help of two Polish women whom Yad Vashem has recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

The book also includes an insightful, moving epilogue by Lensky’s son Yaacov, who relates his own fascinating story in the Warsaw ghetto, the Polish Uprising in August 1944, and more.
In Mordechai Lensky’s assessment, “Warsaw’s Jews lost their lives in three ways: as martyrs of faith, as martyrs of their nationhood and as martyrs for their families.” Most were of the last sort, he says, martyrs for their families, whom they would not abandon. The survival of this family is one testament to that.

The book was published as part of the Holocaust Survivors' Memoirs Project, a special initiative to collect and preserve the autobiographical accounts of Holocaust survivors.

The book can be purchased online for $21.00 including shipping, or directly from the Yad Vashem Publications Department at

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