Am I a Murderer?Testament of a Jewish Ghetto Policeman
A book by Calel Perehodnik from Westview Press
translated by Frank Fox
In this moving memoir, a young Polish Jew chronicles his life under the Nazis. In the vain hope of protecting himself and his family, Calel Perechodnik makes the wrenching decision to become a ghetto policeman in a small town near Warsaw. The true tragedy of his choice becomes clear when during the Aktion he must witness his own wife and child being forced to board a train to the Treblinka extermination camp.
Filled with loathing for the Germans, the Poles, his Jewish brethren, and himself, Perechodnik fled the ghetto to shelter with a Polish woman in Warsaw. In the course of 105 terror-filled days in hiding, he poured out his poignant story. Written while Nazi boots pounded the streets of the neighborhood and while his tortured memory was painfully fresh, this memoir has a rare immediacy and raw power.
Shortly before his death in 1944, he entrusted the precious diary to a Polish friend. The document was eventually deposited in the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem. Left nearly forgotten for half a century, it was finally published in Poland in 1993. We owe a great debt to historian Frank Fox for bringing us this sensitive translation, which reminds us anew of the power and truth of historical memory.
Frank Fox was professor of East European history at West Chester University. As owner of one of the largest private collections of Polish poster art, Fox has had a number of poster exhibits and has written extensively on the subject. He has traveled to Poland many times in recent years to interview and wrote about artists involved in a project to promote Polish-Jewish understanding. He is currently at work on a manuscript dealing with aerial photography and the Katyn massacre.