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One Who Came Back The Diary of a Jewish Survivor


Joyce Reise Kornblatt‘s protagonist Rachael Silver, a Holocaust survivor living in Argentina, undertakes “the duties of a witness,” setting down for her missing granddaughter Marcella, a history of the family’s survival. The chronicle begins with Rachael’s grandparents Dov and Reba and their young daughter Sonia, who will become Rachael’s mother. This is a tale of departure and arrival — from Dov’s mysterious “winged” disappearance in the Danube Delta and his family’s subsequent flight from pogroms and war. In temporary refuges — a Carpathian Mountain spa, a Catholic convent, an elegant Prague apartment, the Berounka caves and Pilsen’s underground tunnels — Kornblatt’s characters compel us with their dignity, their humor and especially their endurance even in the face of the Nazi’s relentless genocide. Finding haven at last in Buenos Aires, Dov Landau’s descendants encounter the Fascist nightmare yet again, swept up this time in Argentina’s “Dirty War” of the 1970s. When her pregnant daughter and son-in-law vanish into the military torture camps, Rachael finds strength and courage in the family stories she herself creates. A legacy for her granddaughter — “We would have named you Marcella” — Rachael’s narrative is a testimony to love as much as it is to the will to live.

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JOSEF KATZ was 23 years old when the Nazis deported him from his home in Lübeck, Germany, to the Riga ghetto in 1941. Over the next four years Katz, like thousands of other Jews, was subjected to unrelenting brutality in internment ghettos and concentration camps. One Who Came Back is Katz’s account of the daily terror in Riga, Kaiserwald, Stutthof and numbers of smaller labor camps and of his coming through. “Every incident, every experience, every horror is exactly as it occurred,” Katz wrote in his original introduction.

Liberated in 1945 after surviving a death march to Germany, he began writing his diary in pencil in Lübeck in 1946, finishing it a year later in New York where he arrived with his wife Irene, also a survivor of Riga. The diary remained in a drawer until the mid-1970s when Katz’s daughter brought it to a German professor at UCLA. Recognizing the importance of this work, written as it was in the immediate aftermath of the war, the Herzl Press published One Who Came Back in English in 1973 (in German in 1976) in collaboration with the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Press. A number of memorists and historians such Martin Gilbert (The Holocaust – The Jewish Tragedy) and Leni Yahil (The Holocaust) have referred to the book’s significance as a primary source for understanding what slave laborers endured in the Nazi camps..

This new edition revises the translation, adds a map, and includes a foreword by Herman Taube, the author of 20 books of fiction and poetry, among them, Autumn Travels, Devious Paths: New & Selected Works and Looking Back, Going Forward: New & Selected Poems(both from Dryad Press).

Joseph Katz was born in 1918. First finding employment in New York’s garment industry as a shipping clerk in 1946, Katz soon went on to establish a successful textile concern in Los Angeles. He died in 1990.

Foreword by Herman Taube
Robert Leiter, The Jewish Exponent

Additional information

Dimensions 7.25 × 5.25 in

Josef Katz

Page Count

231 + xvi





Forward By

Herman Taube


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