Ghosts love Yiddish — they all speak It
“The Road of No Return” by Rachel Korn, set in a World War Two Jewish Ghetto is a deeply moving story about love, hope, sacrifice, in a time of great suffering, massive murders by the Germans.
Yiddish writers who are Holocaust survivors as was Rachel Korn for the rest of their lives tried to capture vignettes of the Holocaust in their stories. Many, as did Rachel lost many family members, suffered survivors guilt and a deep loneliness from which there was no way out.
The Germans liked to cause mental pain as much as physical. In today’s story they have posted notices saying one person from every family must present themselves for transportation to a concentration camp, all knew this meant death. If a family did not comply by the deadline, everyone in the family would be transported.
At dinner the father, obviously shaken to the core, tells his family of the sign. There is two youngsters, a fourteen year old daughter and a 21 year old son, the father and mother plus an ancient grandmother. The four older family members say it cannot be the father as he supports all, the mother is the care giver, the girl just becoming a woman. The 21 year old son volunteered to go, the guilt of making the logical choice of the grandmother is too overwhelming,the grandmother remains silent.
Everyone thinks she does not understand what is going on and they do not include her in the conversation on who will go.
Then they notice the grandmother is gone. Looking out the widow, they see her, carrying the one allowed one small bag, walking to turn herself into the Germans.
A beautiful story.
A read this in Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women.
RACHEL KORN (1898 –1982) Born in 1898 near Pokliski in East Galicia, Rachel Korn grew up among farmers and peasants. At a time when nearly all European Jews lived in cities or sbtetls, her family had owned farmland for several generations. The great love and understanding of nature so prominent in Korn’s poetry can be attributed to her childhood experiences. Korn learned to read and write in Yiddish as an adult, taught by her husband. Though her first publications were in Polish, she chose to become a Yiddish writer because of the pogroms that followed the First World War. Soon thereafter the Yiddish literary world recognized her talents. The powerful vibrancy and boldness of her nature imagery were a new phenomenon in Yiddish literature. When the nazis invaded Poland, Korn fled to Uzbekistan in the Soviet Union with her young daughter. Her husband was killed by the Germans as were most other members of her family. After the war, Korn returned to Poland, resuming her literary career in Lodz where she was elected to the executive of the Yiddish Writers’ Union. In this capacity she attended a PEN conference in Stockholm. Korn never returned to Poland, spending some time in Sweden before immigrating to Montreal in 1949. Here she remained productive as a Yiddish writer of poetry and short stories. As a Holocaust survivor, she often wrote about her grief and isolation. Though she had lost her family, her social context and most of her Yiddish readership, she continued to write poetry and short stories of great eloquence and poignancy in the language of her youth. In the course of her writing career, Korn wrote nine volumes of poetry and two of short stories. Her works have been translated into a variety of languages including English, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, German and French. Two collections of her poems have been published in English: Generations and Paper Roses. Korn’s short stories appear in translation in Canadian Jcwish Short Storics and Canadian Yiddish Writing. She was awarded numerous literary prizes, including the prestigious Manger Prize for Yiddish Literature presented to her by the State of Israel in 1974. —from Found Treasures:Stories by Yiddish Women
A very informative article
Mariam Waddington was also a highly regarded writer who emigrated from Russia to Montreal.