Dvorzetsky, Mark Meir

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DVORZETSKY, MARK MEIR (1908–1975), writer, communal worker, and partisan fighter. Dvorzetsky was born in Vilna, where he graduated in medicine in 1935 and received his rabbinical diploma in 1938. He was active in Vilna in student affairs and a member of the Jewish Students' Self-Defense Organization. He was also a permanent contributor to the Jewish press in Poland. In 1939 he was elected to the Executive of the municipality of Vilna.

An officer in the Polish Army in World War ii, he was taken prisoner by the Germans but escaped and returned to Vilna, where he took part in the Jewish self-defense against the Lithuanian pogromists. In 1941–43 he was one of the founders of the Jewish underground in the ghetto of Vilna and wrote a diary which is now in the historical archives of the city. During this period he did research on ghetto life during the Middle Ages on the basis of responsa existing in the ghetto library. In 1943 he was transported to a concentration camp in Estonia, where he formed an underground group called She'ar Yashuv, and where he also kept a diary. In 1944 he was transferred to concentration camps in Germany. In 1945 he organized the escape of Jewish internees from the camp during a death march and was finally freed by the French army. He organized and headed a displaced persons organization and served as editor of the Yiddish daily Unzer Vort. From 1945 to 1949 he resided in Paris, where he was active in the rescue of Jewish children who had been hidden in monasteries.

From this time Dvorzetsky devoted himself entirely to research on the Holocaust, publishing numerous papers and books on the subject in Hebrew, Yiddish, French, and English. Immigrating to Israel in 1949, he was a member of the executive of Yad Vashem from its establishment, and an active member of all the organizations of ex-partisan fighters and ex-inmates of the concentration camps, as well as literary organizations, including the Israeli branch of pen.

He was instrumental in founding the chair for research into the Holocaust at Bar-Ilan University and lectured there from 1960. He received the Israel Prize for social sciences. in 1953.

[Benjamin Rivlin]