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From That Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938-1947 by Lucy S. Dawidowicz (134,000 words, 1 illustration)

In this memoir, Lucy S. Dawidowicz recounts her time in Vilna where she went to study in 1938-39. She also reconstructs the history of Vilna Jews through the centuries and gives a first-hand account of Vilna’s Jewish community right before its destruction by the Nazis. Dawidowicz fled days before the German invasion of Poland, and returned to the American zone in Germany in 1946-47 to help Jews in Displaced Persons camps with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. It was in that role that Dawidowicz helped salvage remnants of YIVO’s Vilna archives that were shipped to New York.


“Dawidowicz, a well-known historian of the Jews, has presented us... a memoir on Vilna, a city she left on Aug. 24, 1939, just before World War II began. It is a tremendous collection of facts and names. There are sketches depicting the everyday life of a thriving community and reflections upon its unique culture. But the book is more than that: it is a monument to the community destroyed, not by forces of nature, but by the evil human hand.” — Tomas Venclova,
The New York Times

“In this deeply moving personal reminiscence, eminent historian Dawidowicz recounts the year she spent in Vilna, Poland [in 1938-39]... [a] poignant memoir... Her piercingly eloquent narrative gives us a sharp first-hand impression of a world in ruins and of the irreparable losses suffered by European Jewry.” —
Publishers Weekly

“The story of Dawidowicz’s early years and a tribute to the Jewish community and culture of Vilna... Crammed with descriptive details of a people and culture now destroyed and of WW II's chaotic aftermath: chastening, compelling, powerful.” —
Kirkus Reviews

“A leading historian of the Holocaust, Dawidowicz transports the reader from 1938, when she studied in Vilna, Poland, through 1946, when she returned to Europe to assist Jewish survivors. This is a powerful and absorbing memoir” —
Library Journal

“Lucy Dawidowicz's memoir comprises several books for the price of one: it portrays Jewish Vilna as the plucky American student encountered it in 1938, describes the fate of Jewish cultural treasures as she helped recover them after the War, and exposes the mind and spirit of an intrepid historian-in-the making.” —
Ruth R. Wisse, Harvard University

“Lucy Dawidowicz was an historian of monumental importance, best known for her classic
The War Against the Jews. But she was also a vital chronicler of the world of European Jewry before its destruction... [A] compelling memoir of Vilna on the brink of destruction.” — Jonathan Rosen, author of The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds