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The Story of Avraham Tory and his Kovno Ghetto Diary
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The Story of Avraham Tory and his Kovno Ghetto Diary
Avraham Tory was born Avraham Golub at Lazdijai, Lithuania, on December 10 1909, one of six children of a Jewish businessman
Coby the Germans to Kovno Ghetto 1943, Tory (far left) with members of the Jewish Council
On the night of June 25 1941, soon after the German invasion, the first 1,500 Jews of Kovno were murdered by Lithuanians with a savagery that surprised even the Germans. Tory began his diary -- in Yiddish -- at about this time. "Soviet rule has disappeared," he wrote. "The Jews are left behind as fair game. Hunting them is
not unprofitable, because the houses and courtyards of many of them brim with riches."
AVRAHAM TORY, who has died in Tel Aviv aged 92, chronicled in a diary the day-to-day lives and destruction during the Second World War of the Jewish ghetto community of Kovno in central Lithuania.
Tory was a young Jewish lawyer living in Kovno which had, on the eve of war, a thriving population of some 38,000 men, women and children, with five Jewish daily newspapers, many Hebrew schools, and intense Zionist activity.
With Kovno under German occupation, Tory was appointed secretary to the Jewish Council of Elders, an administrative agency set up by the Germans to answer to the Gestapo and to carry out Nazi orders. In this post, Tory had access to Nazi decrees, Jewish council documents and minutes of secret meetings which he secretly stowed away with his diary."I wrote the diary," he later recalled, "at all hours -- in the early hours of the morning, in bed at night, between meetings of the Council. During meetings I sometimes wrote headings, quotes, summaries, dates, and names of places and people on scraps of paper or in notebooks, lest I forget."He was helped by his future wife Pnina Sheinzon, who sometimes took dictation and hid the diary in her home before Tory finally put all the documents in five large crates, burying them underneath a ghetto workshop. He added to each crate a note, saying: "I am hiding in this crate what I have written, noted and collected with thrill and anxiety, so that it may serve as material evidence -- 'corpus delicti' -- accusing testimony when the Day of Judgment comes."In 1944 Tory managed to escape from the Kovno ghetto and hid for four months in a tiny barn in the small village of Vir Vagalai. When liberated by the Russians, he at once returned to the ruined ghetto where he succeeded in recovering three of the five crates.He then left the precious diaries and most of the documents with a friend -- the wife of the chief engineer of Kovno -- and embarked on the long journey which finally took him to Palestine in October 1947. The diaries were later smuggled to western Europe and from there to Tory's new home in Israel.Of the surviving diaries written in the European ghettos of this period, Tory's is the longest by an adult. It is an historical document of great importance and an authentic account of Jewish lives in wartime Lithuania, a country which saw more than 90 per cent of its Jewry murdered -- the highest death rate for any large Jewish community in Europe.
for the rest go to; http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/02/04/Tory_obit.html
Surviving the Holocaust
The Kovno Ghetto Diary
Avraham Tory
Editor and Introduction Martin Gilbert
Textual and Historical Notes Dina Porat

Translated by Jerzy Michalowicz"When the Germans swept through the Baltic states in the summer of 1941, they left behind scores of ghettos, each with its own 'Elders' Council' answerable to Gestapo overlords. When they came to the Lithuanian city of Kovno, a young Jewish lawyer, Avraham Tory, began writing a diary about the transformation of his city into his prison. The Kovno council made Mr. Tory its secretary; he started adding documents to his collection--as many Nazi decrees and council reports as he could obtain--and buried them, along with installments of his diary, underneath a ghetto workshop. The resulting book, Surviving the Holocaust, benefits from Mr. Tory's mobility as a council official; he moved freely inside the ghetto and out, meeting as often with German commandants as with members of the council and with the Jewish underground." --Judith Shulevitz, New York Times Book Review "The diary is a historical document of major importance." --István Deák, New York Review of Books "Tory's diary is an account of the struggle for survival of ordinary men and women who were suddenly thrust into an insane world where none of the ordinary rules applied. It is a tragic chronicle of heroic endeavor." --John Jacobs, Jewish Chronicle "A grim and harrowing complement to...existing literature of the Holocaust. Written by Avraham Tory, a survivor who today lives in Tel Aviv, it includes a remarkably detailed account of day-to-day life in the ghetto as well as official German documents sent to the Jewish Council...Above all the diary lucidly records the heroic will to survive and to preserve a minimum of decency and morality while subjected to indescribable degradation." --Robert S. Wistrich, Times Literary Supplement "[This] is a painful document, its pages a collage of retold events, scraps of news, official German directives, firsthand testimonies, whiffs of rumor and terror...The power of this book lies precisely in its lack of poetry, in its refusal to generalize. The more dispassionately told, the more particular the experience, the more terribly each moment stands out in relief." --Louise Erdrich, Chicago Tribune Avraham Tory, a young attorney and Zionist activist before the war, served as the Jewish Council's chief administrator. He wrote a diary from the first days of the German invasion through his last day in the Ghetto. Working with other members of the Council and with artists, he collected reports, armbands, artwork and German orders, burying them along with his diary in five wooden crates. After the war, Tory retrieved three of these crates. His diary has since served as key evidence in the prosecution of German and Lithuanian war criminals. Tory wrote, "With awe and reverence, I am hiding in this crate what I have written, noted and collected, with thrill and anxiety, so that it may serve as material evidence -- "corpus delicti" -- accusing testimony when the Day of Judgment comes, and with it the day of revenge and the day of reckoning, the calling to account."

Article by Stephen Goodell, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Director of Exhibitions