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 (09-010.29-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 564

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: May 13, 2003

Participants: Khonigsman, Iakov Samoilovich (Prof.); Dorfman, Boris Mikhailovich. Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler, Jeffrey Veidlinger.

Location recorded: L'viv, L'vivs'ka Oblast', Ukraine

Language: Yiddish, Russian

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

The first part of the recording is the continuation of a formal interview with Boris Mikhailovich Dorfman. (Part 2 of 2. See MDV 563)

The second part of the recording includes a formal interview with Professor Iakov (Yankev) Samoilovich Khonigsman, born 1922 in Lublin, Poland. (Part 1 of 2. See MDV 565)

00:00:00 Dorfman speaks about postwar religious life. He mentions Cantor Eleazer Schulman and other local religious figures. Dorfman describes how the community repossessed the synagogue in 1992.
00:03:50 Dorfman addresses contemporary religious life.
00:05:48 The formal interview with Khonigsman begins. He provides personal information and speaks about his family. His father was a carpenter and his mother, a rabbi's daugther, was born in Ostrów Lubelski, Poland. His father was born in Lublin. Khonigsman grew up with a half-brother, who died in the Spanish Civil War. Khonigsman grew with another brother, as well as a sister. He then talks about his relatives in America, who sent his family money on holidays during the postwar Soviet era.
00:15:00 Khonigsman discusses his childhood memories and education. He attended a religious school (Lublin Talmud Torah) at the age of three for four years. Khonigsman then attended the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva and a Polish primary school. Khonigsman recalls poverty in his family. After Khonigsman graduated from school, he began an apprenticeship with a hat-maker and took evening classes at a vocational school until 1939.
00:18:36 Khonigsman talks about his life during World War II. He describes how he escaped with his friends toward Chełm, but had to return to Lublin, where he stayed for one month. Khonigsman continues that he escaped again and crossed the border to Russia through the river Bug. He lived in the Soviet Union from November 1939 and lived on a kolkhoz for one month and then left due to hunger. Khonigsman then passed through different places, including Kritchev, Russia, Mohyliv-Podilskyy, where he worked at a sewing factory. In Mohyliv-Podilskyy, Khonigsman also attended an institute for economics in 1941.
00:23:23 Khonigsman speaks about his life after Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. He was trained as komsomol to fight off German parachutes. According to him, only 24 out of 800 survived this military action. He then evacuated by train to Chistopol, Tatarstan, from which he escaped to Kuybyshev (today: Samara, Russia). In Kuybyshev, Khonigsman worked as deliverer and completed courses at an institute for economics, before being drafted into the Red Army. He was sent to a labor battalion eastward, which he eventually led in the Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan. Khonigsman was then called to Moscow to work as translator for six month, which he left due to sickness. He then lived in Kyiv for six months, before arriving in Lviv.
00:29:04 Khonigsman speaks about his life in Lviv after the war. He worked odd jobs, before finding work at the Lviv Academic Library. Khonigsman then describes how he found the job at the Jewish division of the library in 1946. The library closed down in 1949 and he then worked at the Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) archive. He states that he was in constant fear of imprisonment as writer and was let go twice.
00:34:12 Khonigsman speaks about his intellectual life after the war, including his encounters with Yiddish writers.
00:36:14 Khonigsman talks about his studies as historian of economic history. He also speaks about his life before the war, when he stopped going to the synagogue at the age of fifteen. Khonigsman returns to his life after the war. He was let go after one year of work at the archive and then wrote his dissertation about the infiltration of foreign assets from West Ukraine, supervised by Moscow State University. Khonigsman then worked as history teacher at a middle school in Kyiv. He was promoted to school principal in the 1950s, since he was a Party member and the only male teacher, as he explains. Khonigsman worked as school principal for nine years and finished his postdoc, before moving to Lviv. He eventually was assigned work in Drohobych as teacher.
00:52:11 Khonigsman speaks about his research interests. He worked in Drohobych until 1973, before teaching at the Lviv Academic Institute, then Ternopil for two years and Polytechnical Institute in Lviv, where he has been teaching since 1976. Khonigsman then show his publications and returns to talking about his research interests.
01:01:33 End of recording.