Lot of four diaries written in Yiddish by Irving Leavitt (Israel Jankelewicz) while in Poland, c. 1942.

Translations of pages 1 through 100 available for download.

Location: Poland
Date: c. 1942
Attribution: IHMEC: courtesy of the Leavitt family
Accession Number: 2007.112.1 a-d
Donor Bio:

Irving Leavitt (Israel Janelewitz) was born in 1910 in Lubicz, Poland and grew up in Nowogrodek, Poland (now Belarus). During the war, he lived in the Nowogrodek Ghetto. He escaped the ghetto and hid in the Lipiczany forest. He later joined the Bielski Brothers partisan group, along with his then-girlfriend, Chaya (Helen). Helen was born May 7, 1922, in Minsk, Russia. Her family moved often before the war, arriving in Nowogrodek in 1936. Helen hid in town during most of the German occupation, moving from attics to other places in the ghetto. Eventually, Helen and her brother, Ike, joined the partisans in the woods. Helen and Iriving had known each other in Nowogrodek. While in the partisan they were married in the woods, with no rabbi. Irving kept a diary written in Yiddish in four volumes, the first one is dated June 22, 1941, and titled “The Destruction of Nowogrodek,” during the war. Irving and Helen went to Israel in 1947 and stayed there for one year. They were re-married in a religious ceremony Tel-Aviv in 1948. They then left for Italy where their first child, Marvin, was born in 1949. Irving ran a relocation center for Jews in Italy.
The couple gained documents to enter Australia and were about to leave for Australia when paperwork for America came through. They decided to move to America instead and settled in Chicago. In Chicago, Irving wrote for the Chicago Jewish Forward and was chairman of the Workmen’s Circle. Their daughter, Betty (Schwartz) was born in Chicago.

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