"From the Warta River to the East River" (1957)

- by Rafał Federman

Born, raised and having spent most of his life in Częstochowa, Rafał Federman was a Yiddish writer and journalist. He served as Vice-Chairman of the American section of the World Federation of Polish Jews and was President of the United Czenstochower Relief Committee. He lived in both Poland and the U.S.A. He was a prolific contributor to several Częstochowa Yizkor Books.

According to S. D. Singer:

Rafał Federman’s memoirs printed in the book ‘Czenstochover Yidn’, were very interesting to read. It was evident, from those autobiographical pages, that Federman had much more to relate.

“Federman, therefore, had a good idea when he decided to elaborate on his memoirs. In fact, he rewrote and changed [them] such that a completely new and unique book emerged. This is a culturalhistorical chronicle of the life of a man, written in the form of a long story, with a protagonist Josef Szalit and with descriptions of dozens of other Jewish personalities.”

In fact, in the preface to this book, Federman, himself, writes:

It is with an uneasy feeling that I bring this book, ‘From the Warta River to the East River’, before the reader. My sole intention was to record a chronicle of the times and the environs in which I lived for over sixty years. I thought that, at least, some of my experiences and those of my friends should be recorded somewhere.

“However, not all that I recount here has to do solely with suffering. It was also a life filled with joy, as well as hardships and stumbles.”

While the book’s protagonist and characters are fictitious, the reader should be aware that their experiences and the events described are based in truth.

This Yizkor book, in its entirety, has been professionally translated into English
for the FIRST time.

The professional English translation of this Yizkor book 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.

Chapters/articles are listed in the order in which they appear in the Yizkor Book.
(The numbers in brackets, after each article, correspond to the appropriate page numbers in the Yizkor Book.)


Title & Prologue Pages (1-18)

Chapter 1 – Josef Szalit and His Family (19-22)

Chapter 2 – Winning the Lottery (23-26)

Chapter 3 – A Pogrom, Soda Water and Revolutionary Literature (27-35)

Chapter 4 – Avoiding Arrest and Jail (36-39)

Chapter 5 – Strikes and Imprisonment (40-42)

Chapter 5 – Strikes and Imprisonment (40-42)

Chapter 6 – the Zionist-Socialist Workers’ Party, Kraków and Losing a “Second Home” (43-46)

Chapter 7 – Getting Engaged, Prison, Military Service and Uncle Duwid (47-55)

Chapter 8 – World War I and Returning to Communal Activity (56-64)

Chapter 9 – Illness and Two Girlfriends (65-71)

Chapter 10 – Political Upheaval, the Bund and Maybe Paris (72-75)

Chapter 11 – Paris and a New Life (76-79)

Chapter 12 – Unhappy in Paris and Returning to Warsaw (80-84)

Chapter 13 – Working in Warsaw and Conflicting Emotions (85-88)

Chapter 14 – The Death of Their Daughter, Working in the Union and War on the Horizon (89-93)

Chapter 15 – Germany Attacks Poland, Lithuania and the Hope of a Visa to America (94-103)

Chapter 16 – The War Worsens, a Visa to America and Difficulties in Obtaining a Transit Visa (104-110)

Chapter 17 – Traveling Through Russia in Fear and, in Japan, Boarding the Ship to America (111-113)


Part 2 Title Pages (115-118)

Chapter 18 – Arriving in America, Helping Those Back in Poland and a “Divorce” (119-124)

Chapter 19 – Horrific News from Poland, Survivor Guilt, War’s End is Imminent (125-130)

Chapter 20 – The Execution of Friends, Disillusionment, Contacting Landsleit in the USA (131-134)

Chapter 21 – Bringing Survivors to the United States and an Arranged “Marriage” (135-138)

Chapter 22 – Extracting His Real Wife from Post-War France (139-142)

Chapter 23 – Rywka in Liberated France (143-146)

Chapter 24 – Differing Views About the Soviet Union and America (147-151)

Chapter 25 – “Czenstochover Yidn” is Published and Rywka Returns Alone to France (152-154)

Chapter 26 – Life Without Rywka and the Extent of the Holocaust is Revealed (155-156)

Chapter 27 – Cutting Ties With the Past (157-160)

Chapter 28 – Finding a Kindred Spirit (161-164)

Chapter 29 – False Hope (165-167)

Chapter 30 – Another Disappointment (168-170)

Chapter 31 – Finding Happiness and Helping Others (171-175)

Chapter 32 – Surviving Relatives in a German DP camp and a Failed Romance (176-179)

Chapter 33 – Visiting Relatives in Montreal and Helping the “Surviving Remnant” (180-186)


Chapter 34 – Good Friends From the Past – Their Fate Before and After the Holocaust (187-198)

Chapter 35 – How Life Returns to Liberated Częstochowa (199-201)

Chapter 36 – New Hopes, Leaving Poland (202-205)

Chapter 37 – Escape From Dachau, Finding a Brother (206-207)

Chapter 38 – Arriving in America, Leaving Brother Behind in German DP Camp (208-210)

Chapter 39 – Coming to Los Angeles and a Pleasant Surprise (211-215)

Chapter 40 – Heartfelt Correspondence (216-222)

Chapter 41 – Long-Held Hopes and an Ultimate Reunion (223-226)

Chapter 42 – Being Able to Horrific Pasts with Someone Close (227-230)

Chapter 43 – Should a New Jewish Generation be Brought Into the World? (231-233)

Chapter 44 – No Longer Alone, a Jewish Veteran Returns Home (234-235)

Chapter 45 – The Polonised Jews, Settling Down – Finally (236-239)

Chapter 46 – Marrying a “Good German”? (240-243)

Chapter 47 – Hitler’s Legacy to Young Jewish Survivors (244-247)

Chapter 48 – A Simcha Brings Back Painful Memories (248-250)

Chapter 49 – A Communist and a Rift in the Family (250-253)

Chapter 50 – Coping with Post-Holocaust Memories and Life (254-255)

Chapter 51 – Tuberculosis (256-259)

Chapter 52 – News of a Death, Thinking About One’s Own Mortality (260-262)

Chapter 53 – 65th Birthday Honours (263-265)

Chapter 54 – Josef’s Passing and His Will (266-270)

In 1964, in the periodical “Zayn”, Rafał Federman published an addendum to his book entitled


Part 1 – Introduction (1-4)

Part 2 – Preface (5-6)

Part 3 – Transformation (7-19)


Dave Horowitz-Larochette


While the English translation is available for download, it may not, either in part or as a whole, be distributed or published without the prior written permission of Andrew Rajcher, the copyright-holder of this English-language version of the Yiddish Section of this Yizkor Book.