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Yehoshue Perle (1888–1943)

Author of Everyday Jews: Scenes from a Vanished Life

Includes the names: Iehoshua Perle, יהושע פערלע

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Yehoshue or Yehoshua Perle was one of Poland’s most popular, controversial, and prolific Yiddish writers. When his novel Everyday Jews was first published in Poland in 1935, Jewish leftists were scandalized by the sex scenes, and Isaac Bashevis Singer complained that it was too bleak to be psychologically credible. Yet within two years, it was heralded as a modern masterpiece. Perle was born in Radom, central Poland, the son of a merchant. After several years of traditional Jewish education, he was sent to a Russian school and became a bookkeeper. At age 17, he went to Warsaw, where he worked in a bank. He spent his free time reading literature, attending the theater, and meeting other young Jewish writers. His first work in Yiddish, an article called Shabes, was published in 1908. He also worked as a journalist and wrote short stories and novels, some of which were published serially in daily newspapers. In 1937 and 1938, he was awarded two prestigious prizes, one from the Warsaw Yiddish PEN club and the other from the Bund. During the German invasion of Poland at the start of World War II in September 1939, Perle joined the tens of thousands of people who fled Warsaw. He reached Lwów (Lviv) in western Ukraine by November. When the Germans arrived there, Perle, his son, and daughter-in-law went back to Warsaw. There he became involved in the Yiddish underground cultural organization, Yizkor. He described the roundups and deportations of Jews in a detailed diary he kept, titled Khurbn Varshe (Destruction of Warsaw). In March 1943, he and his son escaped the Jewish ghetto to live on the "Aryan" side of Warsaw under false identities. Following the Warsaw ghetto uprising in April 1943, Perle and his son were lured out of hiding and sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.
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