Books by David Kahane

A Holocaust memoir made exceptional by the diarist's rare combination of thoroughness for detail with an eye for irony. This valuable addition to our knowledge of the Ukraine's Lvov Ghetto was penned by a survivor resilient enough to go on to become the chief rabbi of the Israeli Air Force. Kahane's formidable rabbinic and secular education allowed him to survive at various points, giving him the contacts and the ability to even communicate with the Ukrainian archbishop in Old Church Slavonic. It is his religious and moral perspective, and his facility for graphic description and biting satire, that make this a standout in a crowded genre. The historian will value the detailed breakdown of ghetto institutions, the logged litany of Nazi decrees and Aktions, and the constant census figures that mark the systematic annihilation of 135,000 Jews through execution, hunger, disease, and various tortures. The rabbi's ear for overheard dialogue allows us to feel the average Ukrainian's contempt for the Jews, the pain of the few moral Christian clerics who disdained the boundless bloodshed, and the teeth-gritting stoicism of young men who refrained from lashing out at their tormentors to keep scores of innocents from being butchered in reprisals. With descriptions of evicted families "running like drugged mice" and provocative allusions to both scripture and world literature, Kahane's diary itself should be a survivor. Read full book review >