|Catalog No.||18996||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||A portrait of the poet Itzhak Katzenelson.||Similar Items|
|Registry No.||03558p||Similar Items|
|Period||Before World War II||Similar Items|
|databank||Photo Archive||Similar Items|
A portrait of the poet Itzhak Katzenelson.
Itzhak Katzenelson: poet, author, playwright, instructor and educator. He was born in Karelicze, in the Minsk region of Belorussia, in 1885 or 1886. In 1887, the family moved to Lodz and settled there.
Katzenelson's literary and dramatic talents, and his pedagogical bent, were already evident from an early age, in his writing plays, poems, and stories for children. In 1912, he founded "Ha - Bimah ha - Ivrit" [Hebrew: the Hebrew Stage] in Lodz, and established a network of Hebrew schools in Lodz, from kindergarten through high school, for which he served as director. As a member of the Dror Zionist youth movement, he was very active in the "Borochov" pioneering training commune and was the moving spirit of its cultural and social life.
Katzenelson visited Palestine twice, in 1924 and 1934. He assisted his brother Avraham's immigration to Palestine and contributed to his investments in Kibbutz Shfayim.
Some three months after the occupation of Lodz by the Germans, Katzenelson left the city for Warsaw. In January 1940 he was joined by his wife Chana. From his first day in Warsaw, Katzenelson wrote for the Jewish underground press, took part in educational and cultural activities, and taught in Dror's underground high school and movement seminars.
During the period of mass deportations from Warsaw in the summer of 1942, Itzhak Katzenelson and his eldest son, Zvi, worked in the "shop" (ghetto factory) of the German industrialist Schultz. During that same period, Katzenelson's wife and their two younger sons, Benjamin and Ben - Zion, were captured and deported to the Treblinka extermination camp.
Katzenelson's own stance on active Jewish resistance is expressed in his poem, "Dos Lid funem Oysgehargetn Yidishn Folk" [Yiddish: "The Song of the Murdered Jewish People"]: "Early in July, when they began to take us from Warsaw to die, a meeting took place. Had I been there -- I would have joined the Chalutsim [Hebrew: pioneers] and shouted, 'Tamut Nafshi!' [Hebrew: Judges 16:30 'Let me die (with the Philistines)!']" (from Canto XIV).
On April 20, 1943, the day after the outbreak of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Itzhak Katzenelson went into hiding on the "Aryan" side of Warsaw. In May, he was caught while holding a Honduran passport, and as a result was deported to the Vittel camp in France. He continued his writing there until April 29, 1944, on which date he and his son Zvi were transported to the Birkenau extermination camp, where the two perished.
Katzenelson recorded his impressions and experiences during his year in the Vittel camp, a text that became known after his death as the Vittel Diary (published in English translation, Tel Aviv: 1964).
Itzhak Katzenelson, known as the Mourner of the Holocaust, encompassed in his life three fields: education, literature and the stage, each complementing the others. The Beit Lohamei Haghetaot (Ghetto Fighters' House) Holocaust and Resistance Heritage Museum in Israel bears his name.
1) "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust" (Yad Vashem, ed. I. Gutman), NY: Macmillan, 1990, vol. 2, pp. 791 - 793.
2) Itzhak Katzenelson, "The Song of the Murdered Jewish People" (English - language translation and annotation by Noah H. Rosenbloom), Israel: Ghetto Fighters' House, 1980. Close