My Four Years in Soviet Russia

My Four Years in Soviet Russia

from 19.00

Yitzhak Erlichson
Translated by Maurice Wolfthal

Series: Jews of Poland
ISBN: 9781618112545 (hardcover) / 9781618112217 (paper)
Pages: 200 pp.
Publication Date: June 2013

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This is the story of Yitzkhak Erlichson, a Polish Jew who was nineteen years old when he escaped the Nazis by fleeing toward the USSR from his hometown, Wierzbnik. There he hoped to find a land true to its official ideals of justice, equality, and brotherhood. Arrested as an English spy, he was sent to prisons and slave-labor camps, and after his release worked and traveled in the USSR. To his dismay, he found injustice, inequality, and anti-semitism equal to that of his native Poland. Attempting to join the Polish army forming in the USSR, he was told it was “only for Poles.” He met and married his wife, Fania, in the Soviet Union. She traveled and worked with him and nursed him back to health after his final imprisonment. They made their way back to Wierzbnik. There he learned that none of his family survived the German occupation.

Upon his return from the USSR, Erlichson began a new life in Poland and worked in the leather industry, having had some training in that trade before the war. But antisemitism and communist repression impelled him to leave after a few years, and he made his way to Paris in 1947. He published this book there (under the pen-name Yitzkhak Edison), as well as Poyln nokh der bafrayung (Poland After Liberation) in 1956. He also wrote for Yiddish newspapers in Paris, London, and New York. He left Paris in 1957, settled in Brooklyn, and wrote for the Forverts.


Maurice Wolfthal, a retired teacher, grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home. Like Yitzhak Erlichson, his parents escaped the Nazis by fleeing to the USSR, and like Erlichson, they made their way to Paris after the war, and later from there to New York. Mr. Wolfthal is an independent scholar who has written for Dissent, Daedalus, the English Journal, Educational Leadership, Educational Horizons, and The New York Times Op-Ed Page.


This remarkable memoir, first published in Yiddish in 1953, gives a vivid and moving account of the experiences of a young Jew who in 1939 fled from his native town in south-central Poland to the Soviet Union. Essential reading for all those interested in the Jewish fate during the Second World War.
— Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University
My Four Years in Soviet Russia is deftly translated into English by Maurice Wolfthal and provides American readers with a truly candid, deftly written, and intensely personal autobiography of what life was like in Communist Russia during the Second World War. Informed and informative, My Four Years in Soviet Russia is a fascinating read and would prove a welcome addition to academic library Soviet Studies reference collections.
— Jack Mason, The Midwest Book Review Bookwatch
Adds an important primary source document to the history of Polish Jews during World War II.
— Book News, Inc., Portland, OR