by dr harry a butowsky
WINNER: FIRST PLACE IN BIOGRAPHY, 2016 TAZ AWARDS
“Americans don’t really understand the war. Here you go to war and read about it in the newspapers. You eat well and sleep well, and no one bombs you. Over there it was different.” - Yitzkhak (Isadore) Neiman
When the Second World War began in 1939, more than 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland. By 1945, 90 percent of them would be dead.
I Survived: My Name Is Yitzkhak presents the remarkable story of one man who made it out alive.
Born in 1912, Yitzkhak (Isadore) Neiman began life as a handyman’s son in the rural village of Czuczewicze, on the eastern border of Poland. The town’s Jewish community and gentile farmers lived together in relative harmony until the war came to them in 1941. One year later, almost every member of the Neiman family would be dead, and only Yitzkhak’s conscription into the Russian Army would save his life.
Interviewed by Dr. Harry Butowsky in the 1970s, Mr. Neiman narrates his service in two armies, imprisonment in a Soviet work camp, and escape to the United States in stunning, heartbreaking detail. At every turn Mr. Neiman’s memories reveal the struggles, ingenuities, and small kindnesses of everyday life under total war as he crisscrosses borders, battles hunger, and escapes violence.
I Survived represents a unique and invaluable addition to the oral history of World War II and to the great wealth of stories that let us know and honor the grit, determination, and intelligence of regular people in extraordinary circumstances.