Mordechai Strigler

1921 (Zamosc, Poland) - 1998 (New York)

Journalist and Writer

"Even if you survive, you will be ashamed to write about such things. You will merely search for uplifting words and miracles. But you will always suppress the criminal truth, or only tell half of it."

Mordechai Strigler was born to a Hassidic family in Zamosc, Poland on 18 September 1918. At the age of eleven he was a Talmud student at a Yeshiva, and from 1937 a rabbi and teacher in Warsaw.

His attempt to escape after the Germans marched into Poland failed. After ghettoization, Strigler was deported to Majdanek Concentration Camp, and later transferred to the work camp Skarżysko-Kamienna (Factory C). At the beginning of August 1944 he arrived at Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he worked as a teacher for Jewish children. He was liberated on 11 April 1945.

In the spring of 1945 Strigler accompanied a group of surviving children to Paris and found work as an editor with a Yiddish daily newspaper Unzer Vort ("Our Word"). At the same time he wrote several books on Jewish culture and literature. Between 1948 and 1952 he wrote the six-volume series Oisgebrente Likht ("Extinguished Candle") about his experiences in the labour and concentration camps. He carried out lecture tours in Europe, America and Israel. When Israel was founded he became involved with the Zionist Workers' Party. In 1953, after a lecture tour in New York, he became an editor of the Yiddish weekly newspaper Yidisher Kemfer ("Jewish Fighter"); up to 1995 he published countless articles here, writing under twenty different pseudonyms. From 1968 onward he also wrote regular columns for the daily newspaper Forverts ("Forward"). In 1978 Strigler was awarded the Itzik Manger Prize for Jiddish Literature. At the age of sixty-six he became editor of Forverts. Strigler's oeuvre includes poems, poetically written memoires, rabbinical texts and political commentaries as well as stories and novels.

On 10 May 1998, just a few days before he was to be awarded an honorary doctorate for Hebraic literature by the Jewish-Theological Seminary of America, Mordechai Strigler died in New York.