Synopses & Reviews
Smuggled out of the ghetto and carefully preserved in a kerosene can on a farm outside Warsaw, Chaim Kaplan's diary, originally recorded in beautiful, disciplined Hebrew script, is a detailed eyewitness report of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and a unique account of the destruction of the Jewish communities of Poland. Scroll of Agony begins on September 1, 1939, as the author, a respected educator, describes the Nazi blitzkrieg that stunned the world. It ends in August 1942, when Kaplan realized that the Nazi noose was around his neck. Kaplan's remarkably objective account of the politics of occupation depicts a world of starvation and forced labor, of capricious death and planned mass murder. Yet his orderly script also conveys a world in which the struggle for survival included spiritual resistance: conducting services behind drawn shades, struggling to keep the schools open, and holding on to the rich fabric of communal life in defiance of the strongest force of dehumanization that the world has ever seen.