Commentary On Chaim A Kaplan's Diary

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The Warsaw diary of Chaim A. Kaplan This text is an extract from the Chaim Aron Kaplan’s diary « The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan » published in 1973. In this excerpt, Chaim Kaplan describes precisely the evolution of the Warsaw ghetto’s life organization and the everyday persecutions and difficulties the Jewish population had to face, since November 2 of 1940 to February 20 of 1941. Chaim A. Kaplan was born in 1880 in Horodyszcze in the Russian Empire. He was educated in the Jewish tradition, receiving a Talmudic education. He moved to Warsaw in 1902 and became the head of the Hebrew school he has founded. Before the Second World War, he visited the United States and Palestine, published books, and started to write his first diary in 1933, the year Hitler rose to power in Germany. Prisoner in the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw, his gave his diary to a forced laborer Jewish friend before his deportation. Kaplan might have died in Treblinka between December 1942 and January 1943. This extract begins on November 2 of 1940, almost one year after the German’s invasion of Poland (September 1939) and the creation of the Warsaw’s ghetto on October 12 of 1940. Describing the starvation, the economic difficulties, the job shortage, the violence, the disease and a Jewish people which seems reduced to a resigned mass, Kaplan illustrates the progressive dehumanization triggered by the ghetto. Embodying the transition from social segregation to physical segregation, the ghetto is a negation of the individual who is reduced not even to his religion (as in the medieval Spanish law) but to his race. Thus, the ghetto seems to be the anteroom of the concentration camps, since it started to dehumanize the Jews, imposing to them harsh conditions which were likely to destroy them: overpopulation, economic asphyxia, food shortage, violence and isolation from the world. We can

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