About the Częstochowa Yizkor Books Project

- preserving the words of our Holocaust Survivors for future generations

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Yizkor Books were, in the main, written by Holocaust Survivors, from the late 1940’s through to the 1960’s. Once this Holocaust Survivor generation is no longer with us, these books will enable these Survivors to continue to talk to us “from beyond the grave”.

These books are an important resource for research by historians and genealogists, as well as for the Survivors’ descendants when tracing family history or their own genealogy.

HOWEVER, it must be said that they cannot be entirely relied upon as definitive resources. They do contain some errors and inaccuracies regarding people, places, dates and times. This is quite understandable as:

    • often articles have been written twenty or more years after the events described have taken place and, while Holocaust memories are certainly burnt into the consciousness of Survivors, the accuracy of the details associated with these memories may fade;
    • a Survivor’s memory has become interwoven with other Survivors’ recollections and certain details have become less accurate in what has become a “collective memory” (Research into the fast-growing field of memory studies shows that collective memories evolve and may differ at various moments in time.);
    • certain events have been witnessed from a personal perspective only and can, obviously, only be written about from that perspective and not from an overall, historical context;
    • Yizkor books, as a rule, are compilations of the works of many different authors, each with his/her own world view (some of which may seem quite extreme to today’s “politically correct” reader), and with his/her own distinctive literary style and capability.

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS

Most of the Yizkor Books relating to Częstochowa and the surrounding area have, to some degree or another, been translated into English – except for Sefer Częstochowa which has only now been translated into English for the first time.

The English-language translation of Sefer Częstochowa has been carried out by a PROFESSIONAL translator. The translation is ACCURATE, COMPLETE and, where historical discrepancies have arisen, they have been referred to historians for clarification and, while what has been written has been translated accordingly, a footnote has been added to indicate that there is an historical discrepancy.

We should not treat possible inaccuracies just as mistakes. They reflect the opinions of the people who wrote and/or edited the articles/chapters at the time of their publication. Yizkor Books give us information not only about the times they present, but also about the times when they were written. If scholarly research or other sources provide more accurate descriptions of events, we can provide them, also, as a footnote.

This is the manner in which translations of our Yizkor Books SHOULD and MUST be carried out, in order to meet professional standards and to withstand possible critical reading into the future.

HOWEVER, this has not always been the case with past English-language translations of other Częstochowa Yizkor Books. After consulting various historians and researchers, it has been found that:

    • some Yizkor Books have only been partially translated, i.e. some of the articles/chapters have not been translated at all;
    • quite often, translations have been done by well-meaning amateurs and not by professional translators;
    • where amateur translations have been done, translation errors have been found and the English stylistics sometimes leaves a little to be desired. More importantly, when a paragraph or passage seems too difficult or complex, it has sometimes been OMITTED from the translation altogether!

According to Dr. hab. Magdalena Ruta of the Department of Jewish Studies of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków:

Many of them have been translated into English – if not entirely, then in fragments.

These translations […] have been done by volunteers […]. As a result, the English language versions of these memorial books contain numerous factual errors, mistakes in the names of places and of people, shortcuts and/or omissions. They should therefore be treated with caution, even distrust and should be strictly compared with the original text and with other historical sources.

Of course, the above comments are very general in nature and are not intended to reflect on any specific past translator or any specific translation.

THIS PROJECT INTO THE FUTURE

When translating them into English, we owe it to our Holocaust Survivors and to their ancestors to have their words translated ACCURATELY, CORRECTLY and COMPLETELY.

We also owe that to FUTURE GENERATIONS, so that they are able to read the words of their ancestors – again, ACCURATELY, CORRECTLY and COMPLETELY.

So, now that our first Yizkor Book English-language translation has been completed, It has been decided to engage our current translator to translate, FROM ZERO, all the other Yizkor Books relating to Częstochowa and the surrounding area.

This will be far more cost-effective than to look at what has already been translated and then to compare it with the original text.

Like with Sefer Częstochowa, as they are completed, all English-language translations will be posted onto our website for all to read and/or download.

We currently have an EXCELLENT, PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATOR in Dave Horowitz-Larochette, who is very competent in translating from both Hebrew and Yiddish. Most importantly, he has an exceptional eye for detail and takes immense pride in the quality of his translations. Far above and beyond the call of duty, as he translates, he ensures that, wherever possible, names and places are spelt correctly and, where historical dates and/or facts are not accurate, he raises these issues for them to be corrected within footnotes.

Of course, professional translations cost money and we are pleased to advise that all costs regarding this project will be covered by the WOLF & DORA RAJCHER MEMORIAL FUND.

Click HERE to return to Częstochowa Yizkor Books Project main page.

The Częstochowa Yizkor Books Project has been made possible by the financial support of the

Wolf Rajcher z”l and Dora Rajcher z”l were both Holocaust survivors from Częstochowa.

They were prisoners in both the “Big Ghetto” and the “Small Ghetto” and, until liberation, were slave labourers in HASAG-Pelcery. Following the War, they emigrated to Melbourne Australia.

Upon the passing of both his parents, their son, Andrew Rajcher, established this charitable fund in their memory.