|Collectively, the articles
make reference to hundreds of historical personalities, as well
as Shoah survivors and victims. The volume includes copies of
numerous photographs that appear nowhere else; indeed, with
the passage of time, many of the originals have probably been
lost forever. As such, the Sefer Tluste is a tremendously valuable
resource for learning about the town’s distant and more
recent past, until the end of the Second World War.
That said, it is important to appreciate that the contributors
to the Sefer Tluste represent only a small fraction of the
Holocaust survivors known to have been associated with the
town and surrounding areas during the period of Nazi occupation
(1941-1944). While the volume gives an impressive overview
of what transpired, from their perspectives, their account
is by no means comprehensive. For instance, the Sefer Tluste
offers little detail – with some exceptions –
about the individual perpetrators of these odious crimes against
humanity; nor does it offer much information about the many
individuals who risked their own lives to help Jews survive
their harrowing ordeals. More comprehensive information on
these topics can be gleaned from written testimony provided
to war crimes trials conducted in Germany from the late 1950s
to early 1970s; from hundreds of other written and oral testimonials
produced mainly between the 1940s and 1990s; as well as from
documentation submitted to Yad Vashem in support of nominations
for “Righteous among the Nations”.
It must also be acknowledged that the individual contributions
to the Sefer Tluste, important as they may be, are reflections
of each contributor’s personal perception of reality,
to the extent that their memory allowed them to recall certain
events (in some cases, two decades after the fact). Only by
comparing many testimonials can one begin to appreciate where
certain factual inaccuracies and other discrepancies lie,
which shall nonetheless remain a part of the official Sefer
Perhaps the greatest limitation of the Sefer Tluste, for over
a half-century, was that the content was largely inaccessible
to non-Hebrew/Yiddish readers. In 2006, I gave a presentation
about Tluste to a small gathering at the annual IAJGS International
Conference on Jewish Genealogy, held that year in New York.
There, I made a remark to the effect that: Wouldn’t
it be wonderful if these important testimonials could be translated
into English, to make them more widely accessible.
To her great credit, Sara Mages took up the challenge and
voluntarily began to translate the Hebrew texts into English.
As I was already familiar with so many of the names of people
and places mentioned in the Sefer Tluste, I offered my services
as a proof-reader and editor of the English texts. With the
approval of the Young Tluster Society, arranged by Renee Steinig,
the completed translations were gradually posted online to
the website of JewishGen (details below) as part of the major
“Yizkor Book” project managed by Lance Ackerfeld.
This rather time-consuming exercise continued on-and-off for
over a decade, until I thought we had reached the end of the
road, towards the end of 2017, with the completion of the
final Hebrew-English translations. Just then, Lance suggested:
How about the Yiddish translations; and what about the several
poems of Shimshon Meltzer (which had not yet been translated)?
This extra undertaking – made by Yael Chaver and Dave
Horowitz-Larochette – proved to be very worthwhile,
as the additional translations greatly enrich the volume.
The translation of the entire Sefer Tluste memorial book was
therefore completed in mid-2018. It can be accessed via a
dedicated page on the JewishGen website: