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Rachel Feldhay Brenner
The Anatomy of Rescue: The Wartime Diary of Aurelia Wyleżyńska, 1939–1944
Aurelia Wyleżyńska, a well-known Polish Gentile writer, stayed in Warsaw under occupation, writing an extensive diary. She was deeply engaged in helping the hiding Jews. Intended as a chronicle, the diary became a narrative centering on the Jewish theme, and especially on the psychological and ethical issues concerning rescue. While she denounced the general anti-Jewish attitude of the Polish population, Wyleżyńska focused on the complex dynamic of rescuer-rescuee interaction. The recognition of the devastating effect of the “Final Solution” on interpersonal relationships defined by the capacity for reciprocity, respect, and mutual understanding made her realize the frailty of the humanistic values in time of terror, and especially the meaning of altruistic action. The diary traces an intricate story of the author’s inner change through unsparing moral self-evaluation and offers a profoundly edifying insight into the anatomy of rescue in a time of genocidal terror.
Hava Eshkoli Wagman