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Papers of Julian (Yehiel) Hirszhaut (1908-1983)

Identifier: RG 720

Scope and Content Note

This collection relates mainly to Hirszhaut’s collecting of Holocaust materials, which he began soon after the war. There are also materials relating to his involvement with publishing and writing articles for various Yiddish and Polish newspapers. A major part of this collection consists of hundreds of eyewitness Holocaust testimonies, as well as newspaper clippings, correspondence, printed material, and photographs relating to Jews in Poland under Nazi occupation. The eyewitness testimonies were collected ca. 1945 by local Jewish historical commissions in Bialystok, Katowice, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, and Warsaw. The testimonies are in Polish, Yiddish and German.

Materials relating to the Lodz ghetto include photographs, ghetto money, printed announcements by Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, and a handwritten Zionist newspaper from the ghetto edited by Dawid Joskowicz. There are also newspapers from the Polish underground and from other ghettos, and miscellaneous materials from Jewish organizations in post-war Poland, such as Ichud and the Central Jewish Historical Commission.

The collection also contains manuscripts and typescripts of articles by Hirszhaut and other writers, many of which are unattributed, and a great deal of correspondence. Correspondents include Abraham Golomb, Chaim Grade, Freed Weininger, Herschel Weinrauch (Grigory Vinokur), Hinde Zaretski, Israel Silberberg-Cholewa, Jacob Zipper, Shea Tenenbaum, Saul Maltz, Jacob Maitlis, Avram Sutzkever, Moishe Ettinger, Arnold Posy, Menke Katz, Rokhl Korn, Joseph Kermish, Isaac Rontch, William Shore, and Mordkhe Schaechter, among others.

Additionally, there is an addendum containing supplementary materials, mostly from the 1970s and 1980s, including submissions to Di Zukunft, of which Hirszhaut was the editor, correspondence, papers of Hanka Hirszhaut, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous writings.


  • 1921-1988, 2001-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1939-1945

Language of Materials

The collection is in Polish and Yiddish, with some German, English, French, Hebrew, Russian and Ukrainian.

Access Restrictions

Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Although the eyewitness testimonies found in Series I have been digitized, the testimonies are restricted to on-site access for reasons of privacy.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Julian (Yehiel) Hirszhaut was born on September 2, 1908 in Drohobycz, Poland, near Lwow. He graduated from LwowUniversity with a Master’s degree in jurisprudence and political economics and simultaneously graduated from the Hebrew Pedagogical Institute, also in Lwow, in 1933. Following his graduation, Hirszhaut worked as the legal advisor to a large bank, first at the Lwowbranch and later at the main office in Warsaw. He was also involved in Zionist activities in Western Galicia, and wrote about Zionist problems in both Polish and Yiddish periodicals. He first published his work in the Polish monthly Narod (Nation, Warsaw) in 1929 and continued to publish in Polish and Yiddish until the beginning of World War II. Among the publications he wrote for were Der emes (The Truth, Warsaw), Der nayer veg (The New Way, Paris, later London), Haynt (Today, Warsaw), Der kampf (The Struggle, Lwow), and Di naye velt (The New World, German, Vienna). He also contributed to the Polish daily Chwilie (Moment, Lwow).

From 1939-1942 Hirszhaut was in hiding in Warsaw before he went to live with his brother and sister-in-law who were living with Aryan identity papers. Hirszhaut obtained false identity papers and even got a job working for a local hardware wholesaler for several months. He was arrested and sent to Pawiak Prison in Warsaw on July 8, 1943 where he stayed for a year before escaping on May 30, 1944. Hirszhaut’s brother was also sent to Pawiak Prison, where he died in November 1943. After escaping, Hirszhaut went into hiding, where he was able to survive until the end of the war. His wife, daughter and entire family perished in the Holocaust.

Hirszhaut helped to build the postwar Yiddish press in Poland, founding and editing the periodicals Ichud (Union, Lodz, 1945, Polish and Yiddish), Opinia (Opinion, Lodz, 1945) and Życie Warszawy (Life of Warsaw, 1945), for which he used the name Michal Dobiecki. He was also the honorary President of the Jewish Committee in Warsaw after the war and, as part of this office, he was instrumental in organizing local Jewish historical committees in Bialystok, Katowice, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, and Warsaw to collect eyewitness Holocaust testimonies. Hirszhaut also wrote extensively on the Holocaust period in Poland and bought and collected historical documents and photographs on this topic, many of which he later sent to Yad Vashem. Hirszhaut married Hanka Hirszhaut, another survivor, in Lodz in July 1945.

The Hirszhauts moved to France in June 1946 on the invitation of the French Zionist Organization. There they helped ensure that illegally arriving Jews got temporary visas to stay in France and provided help and clothing. As an emissary of the French government, Julian Hirszhaut went to Poland to distribute 500 visas for Jewish survivors. He also continued to be involved in publishing while in France. He was the editor of Di tsionistishe shtime (The Zionist Voice, 1946), Videroyfboy (Reconstruction, 1946-1947), which was published through the Union of Polish Jews in France, Undzer veg (Our Way, 1946-1951), and Undzer vort (Our Word, 1946). He also wrote a series of essays for Kiyum (Existence) in Paris: on the history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1948-1949), about Holocaust literature among the Germans (April 1950), and about politics and Jews (1950-1951).

In February 1951 the Hirszhauts settled in New York, where once again Julian Hirszhaut involved himself in publishing and writing about the Holocaust. He edited Amerikaner (The American, 1951-1952), YIVO bleter (YIVO Pages, 1954) and Di Zukunft (Future, 1976-1983). He also served as the President of the Yiddish PEN Club and the executive director of the Congress for Jewish Culture in New York.

Among his books and writings are Finstere nekht in Pawiak (Dark Nights in Pawiak), published by the Central Union of Polish Jews in Argentina in 1948, later published as Jewish Martyrs of Pawiak in 1982; Yidishe Naft Magnatn (Jewish Oil Magnates, 1954); “Dr. Ignacy Schipper – His Life and Works” in Fun noentn ever (From the Recent Past), published by the World Jewish Culture Congress in 1955; and “Meir Balaban” in Dortn (There, 1959), among others.

Julian Hirszhaut died in New York on March 20, 1983. He was survived by his wife, Hanka, and two daughters, Betty Lee Hirszhaut and Dr. Vivian Hirszhaut Swartz.


5 Linear Feet

12 Manuscript Boxes


This collection contains the papers of Julian Hirszhaut, a Yiddish journalist and author of several works about the Holocaust in Poland. He collected a great number of historical documents on this topic, including hundreds of eyewitness accounts, which make up an important part of this collection. The materials in this collection relate to Hirszhaut’s important work gathering documents and testimonies of the Holocaust, as well as to his other professional activities as a journalist.


This collection is arranged by topic and document format. The Testimonies and Correspondence series are arranged alphabetically according to the Hebrew alphabet, even when the materials are in a language that uses the Latin alphabet. The Writings and Printed Materials series is arranged alphabetically according to the Latin alphabet even when the materials are in Yiddish. The addendum is arranged by document type. The addendum correspondence and newspaper clippings are arranged chronologically and the Di Zukunft submissions are arranged alphabetically according to the Latin alphabet.

Yiddish writings have been transliterated and translated and Polish and German writings and publications have been translated. Yiddish personal names have been transliterated according to YIVO standards except when the individual is known in English by another spelling. Additionally, if the name appeared in Latin letters anywhere within the folder, that spelling was used rather than a standard transliteration.

The names of geographical locations indicating places of birth and ghettos listed within the testimonies have been spelled according to what that location was called in its respective country in 1939, without diacriticals. Russian place names have been transliterated. For concentration camp names, the German wartime spelling has been used. Thus a person may have been born in Oswiecim but interned in the Auschwitz camp. Within German-occupied Poland, the Generalgouvernement, the Germans mainly used the Polish spellings without the diacriticals. This system has been followed for forced labor camps for Jews and prisoner of war camps, although the testimony descriptions do not differentiate between the types of camps. In the German-occupied Soviet Union and some of the more eastern parts of Poland, as well as for some of the states allied with Nazi Germany, including Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and others, the Germans often developed their own more Germanized spellings of town names although they were not always consistent in this. These names, when clear from the testimonies, have been used although, when the Germanized name is not clear, the 1939 name has been used.

The collection is organized into three series and an addendum, some of which have been further divided into subseries.

Acquisition Information

The materials were donated to YIVO by Julian Hirszhaut in several accessions between 1975-1978. Additional materials were donated by Julian Hirszhaut’s widow, Hanka Hirszhaut in 1983, 2001 and 2004.

Digitization Note

The collection was digitized and made accessible with the exception of Series I, which has been restricted to on-site access for reasons of privacy. Additionally, folders 335, 336, 337, 341, and 555, which contain full newspapers, were not digitized. Folder 15 was missing at the time of digitization.

Related Material

The YIVO, AJHS and LBI Library and Archives have a wealth of materials about World War II, the Holocaust, concentration camps, survivor testimonies, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Lodz ghetto, and many other topics found in the Hirszhaut Papers. There are also many collections in the YIVO Archives relating to Yiddish newspapers and journals and Yiddish newspaper publishing. The YIVO Library has several of Hirszhaut’s books, including Jewish Martyrs of Pawiak, Finstere nekht in Pawiak, Der nign fun nekhtn, In gang fun der geshikhte: monografyes un eseyen, and Yidishe naft-magnatn.

Separated Material

There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.

There is a card catalog for Series I: Eyewitness Testimonies, a handwritten Yiddish list of correspondents and a guide to the addendum.

Processing information

A Yiddish card catalog for the testimonies was created by Felicia Figa. The correspondence listing was compiled by Leah Oler. The addendum was processed by Markus Nowogrodzki. The complete Yiddish card catalog was translated and additional processing was completed in 2013. Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Guide to the Papers of Julian (Yehiel) Hirszhaut (1908-1983) 1921-1988, 2001-2004 (bulk 1939-1945) RG 720
Processed by Felicia Figa, Leah Oler and Markus Nowogrodzki. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison in 2013. Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Digitization of the Papers of Julian (Yehiel) Hirszhaut (RG 720) was made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Revision Statements

  • June 2015: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States