A Close-up View of a Judenrat: The Memoirs of Pnina Weiss-Wife of a Member of the First Judenrat in Warsaw
The article discusses the memoirs of Pnina Weiss, whose husband, Dr. Avraham Weiss, was a member of the first Judenrat in Warsaw. Published here for the first time, the memoirs were written in the 1960s based on notes the author wrote during the war. They relate to the fateful one-year period, July 1939 – July 1940. The author was an eyewitness to events, including things that the general public did not see, and she describes her fears and concerns, at the heart of which were husband and children. Pnina Weiss’s diary contributes to our understanding of this early period in the war in several ways. First, they provide an insight into the personal and family side of events, from her perspective as the wife of a Judenrat member, and into the impact of that job on her husband. In addition, the memoir reflects the impact of the family’s social circle – religious intellectuals associated with the Institute for Jewish Studies in Warsaw. And finally, the memoir contributes to research on women and the family in the Holocaust. Daily life revolved around the desire to preserve what they had, to anchor their lives in normality, even in abnormal situations. This is the anchor of existence to which women clung in the Holocaust, and from which they projected strength and relative stability to those around them and impacted on the resilience of their loved ones.