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Trepman, Paul


TREPMAN, PAUL (1916–1987), journalist, author, community leader. Born in Warsaw, Trepman was an only child. His father's family were followers of the Gur Rebbe, and one of Trepman's earliest memories was going with his father to meet the him. Trepman attended both traditional and modern cheders, as well as the Takhkemoni Yeshivah in Warsaw. In his youth, he joined the Betar Zionist movement, and was a strong supporter of Ze'ev *Jabotinksy and his Revisionist Zionism. He began to publish in Polish, and his works appeared in a journal edited by Janusz *Korczak and in the Revisionist press. He also began university at the Stefan Batory University in Vilna, but the war halted his studies.

During the war, Trepman had the opportunity to escape east to Russia but refused to abandon his mother in Warsaw. He returned to Warsaw to find his mother in the ghetto, weak and stricken with typhus. He narrowly escaped his mother's fate – deportation to Treblinka – and lived in the Warsaw area with Aryan papers. His Jewish identity hidden, he was arrested in June 1943 and accused of being a Soviet spy. He was sent to *Majdanek and subsequently saw the inside of various camps. He was in *Bergen-Belsen when it was liberated by the British in April 1945, and only after liberation did Trepman resume his Jewish identity. He was soon involved in the cultural and political life of the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp. In July 1945 he was the founding coeditor (with Rafael Olewsky and David Rosenthal) of Undzer Shtimme, the first Jewish newspaper in the British Zone. In December 1947 Undzer Shtimme was replaced with the more substantial Vochnbalatt. Trepman was also an editor of Zamy Feder's Anthology of Songs and Poems from the Ghettos and Concentration Camps, and was co-editor, again with Olewsky and Rosental, of an early photo album of the Holocaust, the multilingual Undzer Churbn in Bild, (Our Destruction in Pictures, Bergen-Belsen, 1946).

With the support of Hirsch *Wolofsky, the editor of Montreal's Yiddish daily, Keneder Adler, Trepman and his wife immigrated to Montreal in 1948. He was hired to teach at the Jewish People's Schools, where he remained for 23 years. In the summers he directed the Labor Zionist Camp Undzer – Camp-Kindervelt. Between 1971 and 1981 he was the executive director of the Jewish Public Library of Montreal. Trepman became a central figure in the Montreal survivor community. In 1961 he established the Montreal chapter of Bergen-Belsen survivors, and served as its president for a number of years.

In Montreal, Trepman was a frequent contributor to the Adler, often writing under pen-names, including the tongue-in-cheek pen-name Pinchas Batlan (Pinchas the Loafer). He also wrote several books focusing on his life before the war and his wartime experiences. These include A Gesl in Varshe (1949; Among Men and Beasts, 1978), based on newspaper articles he had written between 1946 and 1953; and his description of going back to visit Poland, A Traumatic Return to Poland (1980), a translation of six articles he had written for the Keneder Adler about a return trip he took to Poland in 1979.


B. Widutchinsky Trepman and E. Trepman, Paul Trepman: Bikher, Pulikazyes, Arkhivn (1999); C.L. Fuks (ed.), Hundert Yor Yidishe un Hebreyishe Literatur in Kanade (1982), 137–38.

[Richard Menkis (2nd ed.)]

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