Between 1935 and 1938 the celebrated photographer Roman Vishniac explored the cities and villages of Eastern Europe, capturing life in the Jewish shetlekh of Poland, Romania, Russia, and Hungary, communities that even then seemed threatened. Using a hidden camera and under difficult circumstances, Vishniac was able to take over sixteen thousand photographs, many of which survived the war. With the publication of Children of a Vanished World, seventy of these photographs are available, thirty-six for the first time. The book is devoted to a subject Vishniac especially loved, and one whose mystery and spontaneity he captured with particular poignancy: children. Selected and edited by the photographer's daughter, Mara Vishniac Kohn, and translator and coeditor Miriam Hartman Flacks, these images show children playing, children studying, children in the midst of a world that was about to disappear. They capture the daily life of their subjects, at once ordinary and extraordinary. The photographs are accompanied by a selection of nursery rhymes, songs, poems, and chants for children's games both in Yiddish and in English translation. Thanks to Vishniac's visual artistry and the editors' choice of traditional Yiddish verses, a part of this wonderful culture can be preserved for future generations.
by Mara Vishniac Kohn and Miriam Hartman Flacks