Rokhl Auerbakh

Rokhl Auerbakh’s determination to record everything she witnessed in the Holocaust led to her creating the questionnaires to capture other survivors’ stories for war crime trials and Holocaust memorials. Auerbakh did graduate studies in psychology, philosophy and history at the Jan Kazimierz University of Lemberg before beginning her journalism career in 1925 as a writer for the Polish daily Chwila. By the late 1920s she was editor of the Yiddish journals Nayer Morgn and Folk un Tsion. After moving to Warsaw in 1933 she continued to write for Yiddish and Polish publications. But during the German occupation, she worked as director of a soup kitchen in the Warsaw Ghetto for three years and documented the social and psychological effects of the war on those she served. After escaping the ghetto in 1943 she wrote essays to raise Polish awareness of ghettos and concentration camps. In 1945 she joined a fact-finding mission investigating Nazi war crimes at Treblinka and created guides for taking survivor testimony. After making Aliyah in 1950, she became founding director of Yad Vashem’s department for the collection of witness testimony, creating new methodologies for preserving survivors’ accounts.

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am yisroel chai!

"Giving voice to the victims": Rokhl Auerbach (1903–1976), a member of the Polish-Jewish literary elite, ran a soup kitchen in the Warsaw Ghetto while simultaneously in her writing recording the voices of its captive inhabitants. She ultimately survived the war by passing herself off as an "Aryan," and went on to found the Department for the Collection of Witness Testimony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Institution: By the Last Way, by Rokhl Auerbach (Tel Aviv: 1977)

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Rokhl Auerbakh." (Viewed on August 13, 2020) <>.


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