Collection of Rachel Auerbach, author and founder of the Oral Testimonies Department at Yad Vashem archives

Language of Description
Level of Description
Record group
  • English
  • Polish
  • Yiddish
  • Hebrew
  • Hebrew
  • Latin

Extent and Medium

110 files

Biographical History

Rachel Auerbach was born on 18 December 1903 in the village of Lanowce in the Borszczow district of eastern Galicia. She completed her elementary school studies in 1913 , and her high school studies in 1920 in Lwow. Afterwards she studied philosophy and history. In 1925, Rachel Auerbach began to publish articles in the Polish-Jewish newspaper "Chwila" in Lwow. Two years later she was accepted onto the Editorial Board of the "Der Nayer Morgan" newspaper, and she edited journals such as the "Tsushtayer".

In 1932 Rachel Auerbach moved to Warsaw. There she supported herself on a grant awarded to her by the Committee of Jewish Journalists while writing an essay about the psychology of typographical errors. From 1932-1939 she worked for the Jewish-Polish newspaper "Nowe Slowo" (the Polish edition of the "Moment" newspaper), and published articles on literary, scientific and social topics in the "Haynt", "Moment", "Naye Folkstsaytung", "Nasz Przegląd", "Chwila" and "Literarishe Bleter" newspapers. At the same time, she translated books written by Moyshe Stavsky, the book "Krimer Nekht" by Z. Segalowitch, "Di Gildene Pave" (the Golden Peacock) by Yoshue Perle, and novellas by Y. Y. Singer, David Bergelson and others. Rachel Auerbach also translated "Letters from a Journey" by Melekh Ravitsh.

During the Holocaust period Rachel Auerbach served as manager of the public kitchen at 40 Leszno Street. She wrote a monograph about hunger, essays on ghetto life for the Oyneg Shabes archive and documented several of the escapees from Treblinka who returned to the ghetto. After her escape to the Aryan side in early February 1943, she wrote in Polish about the destruction of Jewish life in Poland and the Jewish culture annihilated by the Holocaust.

Between 1945 and 1950 she took part in the work of the Central [Jewish] Historical Commission in Poland under the leadership of Dr. Philip Filip Friedman, edited the history and literary supplements to the "Das Naye Leben" newspaper in Lodz and published books about the Treblinka death camp and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Additionally, she served as consultant for the Jewish section of the film, "Border Street" directed by Aleksander Ford, and wrote the script for the film "Our Children" (1948). She made great efforts to find the Oyneg Shabes archive which was located under the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Rachel Auerbach made aliya to Israel on 07 February 1950 and began to earn her living by writing articles and radio broadcasts on Kol Yisrael. In 1953 she started work on radio broadcasts for Kol Zion LaGola. In April 1954 Rachel Auerbach joined Yad Vashem and founded the Oral Testimonies Department which she directed until her retirement in 1969. During those years Rachel Auerbach published articles and essays in newspapers and periodicals. She participated in public struggles against accepting reparations from Germany in 1952, and demonstrated her involvement and determination regarding the Yad Vashem policies for memorializing the Holocaust. In the 1960s she conducted a struggle against Jean François Schreiber, the author of the book "Treblinka" because of the way he presented the material, his interpretations, his conclusions regarding the murder of the Jews and twisting of the data. At the same time, and in the wake of the turning point that had begun in the Communist world following the Israeli victory in the Six Day War in June 1967, Rachel Auerbach conducted a concerted struggle against Poland and against the antisemitic Communist trends within Poland regarding the Jews.

Rachel Auerbach published several books. Outstanding among them are "The Streets of Warsaw" (1954), "On the Last Journey" (1974) and "Warsaw Testaments" [Yiddish, 1974], (Hebrew, 1985). She died in Tel Aviv in 1976.

Scope and Content

he Rachel Auerbach Collection contains:

Personal documentation; biography; rough drafts of her letters from before the war; versions of her works in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish; articles published in Israel and abroad; articles on general subjects written in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish; correspondence; documentation regarding the book "Treblinka" by Jean François Schreiber; research articles about Rachel Auerbach; radio broadcasts; scripts; documentation regarding the Oral Testimonies Department at Yad Vashem; documentation regarding Rachel Auerbach and Yad Vashem; documentation related to the Eichmann Trial.

Existence and Location of Originals

  • YV archives

Rules and Conventions

EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0

Dates of Descriptions