Through the Eyes of a Sur­vivor: A Liv­ing His­to­ry of Nina Morec­ki From Pre-World War II Poland to Mod­ern America

Colette Wad­dell
  • Review
By – March 23, 2012

As so many sur­vivors do in their lat­er years, Nina Morec­ki relat­ed her sur­vivor tes­ti­mo­ny to a high-school Eng­lish class, and lat­er to a class at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at San­ta Bar­bara, where Wad­dell heard her. Wad­dell decid­ed to use the sto­ry to illus­trate a his­to­ry of Jews in Poland, before and dur­ing the Holo­caust, and the post­war peri­od. She became Morecki’s inter­view­er and a cat­a­lyst for the elder woman’s tes­ti­mo­ny. There ensued a long peri­od of inter­view­ing and friend­ship between the two. 

Nina’s sto­ry begins as a child in an upper mid­dle class Pol­ish home and con­tin­ues to the Nazi occu­pa­tion, Aktions, fam­i­ly loss­es, to the ghet­to, slave labor camps, in flight and hid­ing, through unbe­liev­able hard­ships and suf­fer­ing, includ­ing climb­ing out of a death pit after escap­ing exe­cu­tion by the Nazis and wan­der­ing dazed through woods. Found by a peas­ant cou­ple who shel­ter and care for her, after recu­per­at­ing she joins the Pol­ish Under­ground who fit her out with forged I.D. papers and instruct her to find work in the Ger­man mil­i­tary postal depart­ment, which she does. As the Ger­mans retreat and the Rus­sians advance, she escapes and gets a job, albeit under sus­pi­cion, for the Russians! 

Would it have been bet­ter to have Nina’s sto­ry told with­out Waddell’s inter­rup­tions, expla­na­tions, and com­par­isons? The result is some­what like the com­mer­cial that says the actu­al par­tic­i­pant in an acci­dent does not have the capac­i­ty to describe the event so an actor was hired to tell it. Wad­dell should have remained as the inter­view­er and edi­tor with obser­va­tions placed as intro­duc­to­ry mate­r­i­al to each chapter.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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