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The Fall of a SparrowThe Life and Times of Abba Kovner$
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Dina Porat

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804762489

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804762489.001.0001

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The Wittenberg Affair

The Wittenberg Affair

“On the senseless night of July 16” March–September 1943

(p.106) Seven The Wittenberg Affair
The Fall of a Sparrow
Stanford University Press

This chapter focuses on the Wittenberg affair, which culminated in the death of the commander of the Vilna ghetto underground, Yitzhak Wittenberg. Wittenberg acceded to Gestapo demands and surrendered himself to his killers to save the ghetto from collective punishment. Kovner dedicated a poem to him, including a comment about the affair, to write finis to the incident. Two things are evident from the poem and the comment. First, Wittenberg was not betrayed—he surrendered of his own volition. Second, the title of the poem, “This Day, the 16th of July,” and its last lines, relate to the events of July 15 and 16, 1943, which occured a month and a half before the Aktionen that emptied the Vilna ghetto.

Keywords:   Abba Kovner, Yitzhak Wittenberg, ghetto underground, Jews, Vilna, Aktionen

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