Fishman D Book Smugglers Partisans Poets and the Race

The Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts—first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets—by hiding them on their bodies burying them in bunkers and smuggling them across borders It is a tale of heroism and resistance of friendship and romance and of unwavering devotion—including the readiness to risk one’s life—to literature and art And it is entirely true Based on Jewish German and Soviet documents including diaries letters memoirs and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s participants The Book Smugglers chronicles the daring activities of a group of poets turned partisans and scholars turned smugglers in Vilna “The Jerusalem of Lithuania” The rescuers were pitted against Johannes Pohl a Nazi “expert” on the Jews who had been dispatched to Vilna by the Nazi looting agency Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg to organize the seizure of the city’s great collections of Jewish books Pohl and his Einsatzstab staff planned to ship the most valuable materials to Germany and incinerate the rest The Germans used forty ghetto inmates as slave laborers to sort select pack and transport the materials either to Germany or to nearby paper mills This group nicknamed “the Paper Brigade” and informally led by poet Shmerke Kaczerginski a garrulous street smart adventurer and master of deception smuggled thousands of books and manuscripts past German guards If caught the men would have faced death by firing squad at Ponar the mass murder site outside of Vilna To store the rescued manuscripts poet Abraham Sutzkever helped build an underground book bunker sixty feet beneath the Vilna ghetto Kaczerginski smuggled weapons as well using the group’s worksite the former building of the Yiddish Scientific Institute to purchase arms for the ghetto’s secret partisan organization All the while both men wrote poetry that was recited and sung by the fast dwindling population of ghetto inhabitants With the Soviet “liberation” of Vilna now known as Vilnius the Paper Brigade thought themselves and their precious cultural treasures saved—only to learn that their new masters were nowelcoming toward Jewish culture than the old and the books must now be smuggled out of the USSR Thoroughly researched by the foremost scholar of the Vilna Ghetto—a writer of exceptional daring style and reach—The Book Smugglers is an epic story of human heroism a little known tale from the blackest days of the warThe Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts—first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets—by hiding them on their bodies burying them in bunkers and smuggling them across borders It is a tale of heroism and resistance of friendship and romance and of unwavering devotion—including the readiness to risk one’s life—to literature and art And it is entirely true Based on Jewish German and Soviet documents including diaries letters memoirs and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s participants The Book Smugglers chronicles the daring activities of a group of poets turned partisans and scholars turned smugglers in Vilna “The Jerusalem of Lithuania” The rescuers were pitted against Johannes Pohl a Nazi “expert” on the Jews who had been dispatched to Vilna by the Nazi looting agency Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg to organize the seizure of the city’s great collections of Jewish books Pohl and his Einsatzstab staff planned to ship the most valuable materials to Germany and incinerate the rest The Germans used forty ghetto inmates as slave laborers to sort select pack and transport the materials either to Germany or to nearby paper mills This group nicknamed “the Paper Brigade” and informally led by poet Shmerke Kaczerginski a garrulous street smart adventurer and master of deception smuggled thousands of books and manuscripts past German guards If caught the men would have faced death by firing squad at Ponar the mass murder site outside of Vilna To store the rescued manuscripts poet Abraham Sutzkever helped build an underground book bunker sixty feet beneath the Vilna ghetto Kaczerginski smuggled weapons as well using the group’s worksite the former building of the Yiddish Scientific Institute to purchase arms for the ghetto’s secret partisan organization All the while both men wrote poetry that was recited and sung by the fast dwindling population of ghetto inhabitants With the Soviet “liberation” of Vilna now known as Vilnius the Paper Brigade thought themselves and their precious cultural treasures saved—only to learn that their new masters were nowelcoming toward Jewish culture than the old and the books must now be smuggled out of the USSR Thoroughly researched by the foremost scholar of the Vilna Ghetto—a writer of exceptional daring style and reach—The Book Smugglers is an epic story of human heroism a little known tale from the blackest days of the warThe Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts—first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets—by hiding them on their bodies burying them in bunkers and smuggling them across borders It is a tale of heroism and resistance of friendship and romance and of unwavering devotion—including the readiness to risk one’s life—to literature and art And it is entirely true Based on Jewish German and Soviet documents including diaries letters memoirs and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s participants The Book Smugglers chronicles the daring activities of a group of poets turned partisans and scholars turned smugglers in Vilna “The Jerusalem of Lithuania” The rescuers were pitted against Johannes Pohl a Nazi “expert” on the Jews who had been dispatched to Vilna by the Nazi looting agency Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg to organize the seizure of the city’s great collections of Jewish books Pohl and his Einsatzstab staff planned to ship the most valuable materials to Germany and incinerate the rest The Germans used forty ghetto inmates as slave laborers to sort select pack and transport the materials either to Germany or to nearby paper mills This group nicknamed “the Paper Brigade” and informally led by poet Shmerke Kaczerginski a garrulous street smart adventurer and master of deception smuggled thousands of books and manuscripts past German guards If caught the men would have faced death by firing squad at Ponar the mass murder site outside of Vilna To store the rescued manuscripts poet Abraham Sutzkever helped build an underground book bunker sixty feet beneath the Vilna ghetto Kaczerginski smuggled weapons as well using the group’s worksite the former building of the Yiddish Scientific Institute to purchase arms for the ghetto’s secret partisan organization All the while both men wrote poetry that was recited and sung by the fast dwindling population of ghetto inhabitants With the Soviet “liberation” of Vilna now known as Vilnius the Paper Brigade thought themselves and their precious cultural treasures saved—only to learn that their new masters were nowelcoming toward Jewish culture than the old and the books must now be smuggled out of the USSR Thoroughly researched by the foremost scholar of the Vilna Ghetto—a writer of exceptional daring style and reach—The Book Smugglers is an epic story of human heroism a little known tale from the blackest days of the war


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