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Kruk, Herman (May 19, 1897–September 19, 1944)
May 19, 1897–September 19, 1944

HERMAN KRUK (May 19, 1897-September 19, 1944)
            He was born in Plotsk (Płock), Poland, with the Jewish given name of Borekh-Hersh, the brother of Pinkhes Shvarts.  He studied in religious elementary school, later mastering photography.  He was active for several years in the Community Party.  From 1920 he was involved with the Bund in Warsaw, especially with cultural work and librarianship.  In 1936 he became secretary of the Kultur-lige (Culture league).  He was confined in the Vilna ghetto from 1941 until September 23/24, 1943, where he helped to create Jewish cultural works.  About a year later he was incinerated in the Klooga Concentration Camp in Estonia.  He contributed work to the Bundist Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm), and Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature).  He published such pamphlets as: Rekomendir-reshimes, fun lektur af di temes, prof. faraynen, antisemitizm (Recommended lists, from a lecture on the topics of trade unions [and] anti-Semitism) (Warsaw, 1937), 16 pp.  Kruk’s life work was his diary which he kept in the Vilna ghetto.  The recovered portions, encompassing June 23, 1942 until July 14, 1943, were published by YIVO under the title Togbukh fun vilner geto (Diary of the Vilna ghetto) (New York, 1961), 620 pp.  This diary, according to Yankev Glatshteyn, is a “classic work in our Holocaust literature and a source of inexhaustible information for those who will be writing the larger history of murdered Eastern European Jewry.”

Sources: M. Kligsberg, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (March 1945); Shmerke Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947); Y. Sh. Herts, Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 2 (New York, 1956), pp. 335-41; Yankev Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartogbikher (With my journals) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), pp. 165-71; Yalkut moreshet (Tel Aviv) (May 1964), pp. 46-80; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Yekhezkl Lifshits

English versions by Joshua A Fogel