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Fischel Libermann

23/9/1908 (Petrikau, Poland) – 29/11/2001 (Frankfurt a. M., FRG)

Portrait photograph of Fischel Libermann
Fischel Libermann (1908–2001), ca. 1995.

Fischel Libermann was born in Piotrków, Poland on 23 August 1908, the son of a merchant. He studied the Talmud under Raw Schapiro, the founder of the Yeshiva Chachme in Lublin. He took an interest in literature at an early age.

Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Piotrków was declared a ghetto. Fischel Libermann was sent to various labour camps. His family was deported to the extermination camps, he himself to the Little Camp of Buchenwald Concentration Camp. At the time of the camp’s liberation on 11 April 1945, he was seriously ill and had to spend the summer of 1945 in Buchenwald being nursed back to health.

"Friends say to me: it was by the grace of God that you escaped death. Should I thank God that my wife, my two children, my parents and siblings were gassed, and he left me alive? Should I also thank the merciful God that he left the perpetrators alive? Whom should I accuse?"
Fischel Libermann

After leaving Buchenwald Libermann stayed in various displaced persons camps in Southern Germany. He travelled to his native town of Piotrków, where he learned that, apart from himself, his niece was the only member of his entire family to have survived. He returned to Germany, where he worked as a journalist for Yiddish dailies and weeklies until 1948. He postponed his wish to emigrate to Israel. In the fifties he married and had three children. As an independent scholar he studied Yiddish language and literature, wrote short stories, and produced drawings, paintings and sculptures as a way of processing his experiences of Nazi persecution. From 1982 to 1988 he gave lectures on modern Yiddish literature at the University of Frankfurt. In 1999, he was rewarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Fischel Libermann died in Frankfurt a. M. on 29 November 2001.

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