George’s Kaddish for Kovno and the Six Million
|Edited by||Michael Berenbaum|
|Published by||Xlibris 2009 / 2014 (reprint)|
Reviews for “George’s Kaddish for Kovno and the Six Million”
A welcome fresh presence in the realm of Holocaust history and remembrance, Catherine Gong has created one of the most compelling accounts I’ve seen in three decades. The photos George Kaddish made constitute on their own a limitless gift. Yet the story of the story, Gong’s venture of understanding, illuminates even more this honest and courageous book.
–John Felstiner, Ph.D, Harvard University; Professor of English, German, Portuguese and Jewish Studies, Stanford University; author of Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew
With so many books on the Holocaust in print, it’s rare to find a work that makes one feel that they are hearing a “new story.” And this is precisely what Gong offers. The work resonates on two levels. First, the photos and Kaddish‘s account add to a critical base of documentary evidence of the most basic level. Second, Gong not only provides us with insights in the photographer, her own journey is equally compelling. In sharing her journey, the relevance of this individual story underscores the import of every story of racism, prejudice and intolerance. During the course of reading this I was disturbed, at times moved to tears and ultimately, with the closing excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” uplifted. It was an experience I heartily and most highly recommend to others. –Jill Shapiro, Ph.D., Columbia University in the City Of New York, Professor of Anthropology
Catherine Gong has written a powerful and passionate work about her encounter first with the work and later with the Kovno ghetto photographer Hirsch Kadushin. The result is a deeply satisfying book that has made her the witness of the witness. Kadushin understood to document for eternity what he was experiencing in Kovno with the one tool that he had, a clandestine camera. His pictures are personal; they show Jews in their ordinary life and are indispensible to understanding their plight. Unlike most perpetrator photographs that dehumanize the victims, these photographs rehumanize them and Gong has beautifully described their impact on a young Chinese-American woman who found these as her pathway in the abyss. It is a gripping work that depicts both the Shoah and the world that we live in.
–Michael Berenbaum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Former Project Director; Survivors of the SHOAH Visual History Foundation, Former President; Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University; author of The World Must Know
Catherine Gong’s “George’s Kaddish: For Kovno and the Six Million,” is a welcome addition to Holocaust literature and history. Gong’s ability in matching clandestine photos taken by Kaddish in the wartime Kovno Ghetto with passages from Solly Ganor’s work, “Light One Candle,”is a fresh approach to Holocaust research. Gong triumphs as she not only allows us to see the photos of the victims but to also hear their kindred voices as well through the written word. Gong’s work is beyond a doubt, one of the finest studies using firsthand photographic evidence, of life in the Kovno Ghetto during the German occupation. It makes for compelling reading and is a lasting testament to Kaddish’s mission to document the suffering of his fellow ghetto residents, through photographs, so that future generations will never forget. It is a narrative to remember. -John R. Dabrowski, Ph.D. (Colonel, US Army, Ret.), Chief Historian, Missile Defense Agency, and author of To Sup With the Devil
The scores of pictures alone, in “George’s Kaddish” by Catherine Gong, make this book a treasure. Gathered from multiple archives and sources, the hidden-camera photographs by George Kaddishreveal the deep inner workings of one ghastly ghetto during the 1941-44 genocide of Europe’s Jews. Catherine Gong links picture after picture with sources such as survivor testimony, archival collections, and conversations with the photographer shortly before he passed away, thereby uncovering and recovering the photographed individuals who disappeared in those years, as well as the ghetto’s strategies for survival, from infirmaries to orchestras, its struggle to maintain humaneness against inconceivable savagery. When the author states, “I’m a Chinese-American and… stories from China, the old country, haunted me,” we can understand her remarkable dedication and doggedness in bringing George Kaddish‘s historical photographs to the forefront and surrounding them with corroborating evidence. Her manner is fresh, urgent, honest—I know no one like her—and her unique view of a rare photographer makes a fine contribution to our understanding of those times. -Mary Felstiner, Professor Emerita of History, San Francisco State University, and author of To Paint Her Life: Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era
One of the most powerful forms of Holocaust resistance was the enormous struggle to maintain personal dignity and human kindness. In the darkness of the Kovno ghetto, George Kaddish took clandestine photographs to celebrate his doomed neighbors and condemn the atrocities of their tormentors. These photos are at once disturbing yet life-affirming, repellent yet deeply moving; their publication alone is a minor triumph. In unearthing this lost chronicle, Catherine Gong has accomplished a remarkable work of both scholarship and service. She has remembered the rememberer, and said a prayer for the man whose life itself was a prayer for the six million.
–Zac Unger, Brown University; Firefighter, Oakland Fire Department; author of Working Fire: The Making of an Accidental Fireman
Catherine Gong’s tribute to the previously obscure Lithuanian Holocaust survivor George Kaddish (Zvi Hirsch Kadushin) includes the photos he took in the ghetto of Kovno during the occupation by the Germans in the l940s at great risk. It’s an astonishing story that Ms. Gong has unearthed as we can see from the pictures that speak with a terrible eloquence of the near-unbelievable lives of the Kovno Jews. Catherine Gong reached George Kaddish in Florida shortly before his death and has rescued his story and his photos from obscurity in her memorable tribute to this heroic Holocaust survivor.
–Stanley Poss, Ph.D., Professor of English, Emeritus, California State University Fresno
Catherine Gong’s moving account of her encounters with George Kaddish’s photos of the Kovno ghetto and with the photographer himself help us understand why he did what he did. She also played an important role, described in detail here, in the preservation and exhibition of his collection.
–Richard Breitman, Editor at Large, USHMM, Holocaust and Genocide Studies; Ph.D. Harvard University; Professor of History, American University