“I Don’t Want to Die”

Beresteczko, Poland, Circa 1930s. Page of an Autobiography

The first page of an autobiography submitted in the 1930s to an autobiography contest organized by YIVO. Jewish youth from all over Poland were encouraged to send their life stories to the institute. Prizes were awarded for the best ones. Dovid Pukhalnik from Beresteczko, Poland (now Berestechko, Ukraine) has included a photograph of himself.

Pukhalnik opens his autobiography with a poetic description of observing himself in a mirror as a 20-something-year-old. He sees four blue eyes piercingly gazing at his soul, heart, and flesh, a head of black hair with white streaks, a cold face with pressed, full-blooded lips hinting at a sarcastic smile. Small and faint pearls of tears are running down his matte, pale cheeks and falling onto the dirty ground – the entire world is caught up in a tempestuous ocean of tears, murmuring and weeping.


Digitization of this artifact has been made possible by the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections project.