By the end of 1942, 1.4 million Jews had been killed by the Einsatzgruppen that followed the German army eastward; by the end of the war, nearly two million had been murdered in Russia and Eastern Europe. Of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, about one-third fell in the territories of the USSR. The single most important text documenting that slaughter is The Black Book, compiled by two renowned Russian authors Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman. Until now, The Black Book was only available in English in truncated editions. Because of its profound significance, this new and definitive English translation of The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry is a major literary and intellectual event.
From the time of the outbreak of the war, Ehrenburg and Grossman collected the eyewitness testimonies that went into The Black Book. As early as 1943 they were planning its publication; the first edition appeared in 1944. During the years immediately after the war, Grossman assisted Ehrenburg in compiling additional materials for a second edition, which appeared in 1946 (in English as well as Russian).
Since the fall of the Soviet regime, Irina Ehrenburg, the daughter of Ilya Ehrenburg, has recovered the lost portions of the manuscript sent to Yad Vashem. The texts recovered by Ms. Ehrenburg include numerous documents that had been censored from the original manuscript, as well as items that had been hidden by the Grossman family. In addition, she verified and, where appropriate, corrected the accuracy of documents that had already appeared in earlier editions of The Black Book.
David Patterson responds to these and related questions by examining exile, a primary motif in Russian thought over the last century and a half. By "exile" he means not only a form of punishment but an existential condition.
Drawing on texts by such familiar figures as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, and Brodsky, as well as less thoroughly examined figures, including Florensky, Shestov, Tertz, and Gendelev, Patterson moves beyond the political and geographical fact of exile to explore its spiritual, metaphysical, and linguistic aspects. Thus he pursues the connections between exile and identity, identity and meaning, meaning and language.
Patterson shows that the problem of meaning in human life is a problem of homelessness, that the effort to return from exile is an effort to return meaning to the word, and that the exile of the word is an exile of the human being. By making heard voices from the Russian wilderness, Patterson makes visible the wilderness of the world.
Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.
Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.