Rachel Auerbach’s “Yizkor, 1943”

Resource Kit by
Rachel Rothstein

Module Content



Rachel Auerbach, a writer from Poland who wrote in both Yiddish and Polish, is perhaps best known for her role in the Warsaw ghetto, first as an organizer of the soup kitchens in the ghetto and later as part of the Oyneg Shabes, the ghetto’s underground archivists led by Emanuel Ringelblum. One of the few members of the group to survive the war, Auerbach helped with the post-war search for the documents that the archivists had buried and hidden, and at both Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute and Israel’s Yad Vashem she collected and organized survivor testimonies. 

In March 1943, Auerbach escaped from the Warsaw ghetto and began working for the Jewish underground, the Jewish resistance group fighting the Nazis. While living outside of the ghetto, she continued to write, and in November 1943 she wrote “Yizkor,” which is her only piece to be translated into English. Written after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and subsequent destruction of the ghetto, Auerbach’s “Yizkor” mourns the loss of Warsaw’s Jewish community, which had been the largest in Europe prior to the war. This kit provides teachers with resources for teaching this piece of literature, as well as more general information about life in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Cover image: Rachel Auerbach and Hirsch Wasser unearthing part of the Ringelblum Archives, September 1946. This image is from the photo archives of Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.