From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg: Sutzkever's Holocaust Chronicles with Justin Cammy

Presented on Zoom, November 16, 2021

In 1944, the Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever was airlifted to Moscow from the forest where he had spent the winter among partisan fighters. There he was encouraged by Ilya Ehrenburg, the most famous Soviet Jewish writer of his day, to write a memoir of his two years in the Vilna Ghetto. Now, seventy-five years after it appeared in Yiddish in 1946, Justin Cammy provides a full English translation of one of the earliest published memoirs of the destruction of the city known throughout the Jewish world as the Jerusalem of Lithuania.

Both shocking and moving in its intensity, From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg returns readers to a moment when the scale of the Holocaust was first coming into focus, through the eyes of one survivor who attempted to make sense of daily life, resistance, and death in the ghetto. In this talk, Professor Cammy delves into his newly-released translation of Sutzkever's memoir.

About the speaker:

Justin Cammy is professor of Jewish studies and world literatures at Smith College. A longtime guest lecturer at the Yiddish Book Center, he also is lecturer on Yiddish literature at the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Summer Yiddish Program at Tel Aviv University, for which he serves as summer director. Cammy was a member of the Yiddish Matters research group at the Frankel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan (2020), Webb Family Visiting Scholar in Yiddish in the Goldreich Institute of Tel Aviv University (2013-14), research fellow at Yad Vashem (2013-14), and UCLA/Mellon Senior Scholar in Holocaust Studies at UCLA (2009).  He has translated three works of Yiddish literature: Sholem Aleichem's The Judgment of Shomer, Hinde Bergner's On Long Winter Nights: Memoirs of a Jewish Family in a Galician Township, 1870-1900, and Abraham Sutzkever's From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg: Memoir and Testimony. He is the author of many scholarly essays related to the interwar literary group Young Vilna. In 2006 he was awarded Smith College's Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching.