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Molly Applebaum

Molly Applebaum
Melania Weissenberg

(1930-10-27) October 27, 1930 (age 93)[1]
Nationality Canada
Known forpublished a memoir of surviving the holocaust

Molly Applebaum (born Melania Weissenberg, October 27, 1930) is a Polish-Canadian Holocaust survivor and diarist.[2][3][4] Scholars describe how her diary addressed aspects of surviving the Holocaust that usually went unaddressed.

According to Sara R. Horowitz, a Holocaust scholar, Applebaum wrote a memoir in 1998 and published an updated version when the wartime diary she maintained as a girl was returned to her around 2015.[5][2][6] This provided scholars a rare opportunity to compare her recollection of events with her description of events recorded as they occurred.

After Applebaum's mother heard rumors of conditions for Jewish people in the Nazi concentration camps, she negotiated arrangements with a farmer, named Victor Wójcjk, to hide her family on his farm.[2] Initially, the farmer hid her mother, Applebaum, her stepfather, her little brother, and a cousin, Helen. However, her stepfather was not able to endure the conditions of hiding on the farm and returned to the ghetto. Her mother and little brother also returned to the ghetto, although he could not understand why he should not slip out of their hiding place and play with the farmer's children, and her mother realized his playfulness was putting all four of them at risk. Neither her mother, stepfather, or little brother survived the war.

Applebaum and her cousin Helen hid in an underground chamber hardly larger than a coffin, for years.[2] It was large enough for the two girls to lie side-by-side, but not tall enough for them to sit up.

Applebaum and her cousin depended on the farmer for all their needs, and she describes how they would grow faint after days of not being brought any food.[2]

Scholars observed that her diary described an aspect of the Holocaust that had been rarely addressed - sexual abuse.[2] After she reached puberty, the farmer who was hiding her started having sexual relations with her. Applebaum recounted how she and her cousin encouraged this sexual contact out of fear that he might otherwise tire of the burden and risk of hiding them and turn them away.

The farmer did not betray Applebaum and her cousin.[2] Applebaum describes retreating German soldiers being billeted on the farm in late 1944 as Soviet forces advanced.

Applebaum immigrated to Canada in 1948.[1]

Horowitz writes that Applebaum married reluctantly, in Toronto, in 1950, and had an unhappy married life.[2] She describes Applebaum reading about abusive relationships after her husband's death, in 1983, and that this allowed her to put both her marriage and her relationship with the farmer Victor, in perspective.

Her 1998 memoir did not address the sexual aspect of the girl's relationship with Victor, but her original diary did. So the updated version, which included the diary, revealed events that had otherwise been buried for years.

The second edition of her memoirs were shortlisted for the non-fiction category at the 2018 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature.[7]

On October 15, 2018, the McGill Faculty of Law hosted a conference entitled Sexual Violence in the Context of the Holocaust.[8] One of the conference session was devoted to Applebaum and her memoirs. Jan Grabowski presented the memoirs' historical context. Deborah Barton, Sophia Koukoui and Ariela Freedman provided analysis of the memoir. At another public lecture, at the University of New Brunswick Freedman called Applebaum's memoir a "doubled narrative".[9]


  1. ^ a b "The Holocaust survivors memories program". Azrieli Foundation. Archived from the original on 2018-06-04. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Sara R. Horowitz (2020). "What We Learn, at Last: Recounting Sexuality in Women's Deferred Autobiographies and Testimonies". The Palgrave Handbook of Holocaust Literature and Culture. pp. 45–63. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-33428-4_4. ISBN 978-3-030-33427-7. Retrieved 2020-10-27. As rumors circulated about the death camp Belzec, Molly's mother attempted to arrange safe haven for her family outside the ghetto.
  3. ^ Doris L. Bergen (2019). "Ordinary Men and the Women in Their Shadows: Gender Issues in the Holocaust Scholarship of Christopher R. Browning". Beyond "Ordinary Men". pp. 15–29. doi:10.30965/9783657792665_003. ISBN 9783657792665. S2CID 214333237. Archived from the original on 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  4. ^ Joseph Serge (2018-09-26). "SHORTLIST FOR 2018 VINE AWARDS ANNOUNCED". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2020-10-27. The Vine Awards honour both the best Canadian Jewish writers and Canadian authors who deal with Jewish subjects in four categories; fiction, non-fiction, history and young adult/children's literature; each with a prize of $10,000.
  5. ^ Applebaum, Molly (2017). Buried Words: the Diary of Molly Applebaum (First ed.). [Toronto, Ontario]: The Azrieli Foundation. ISBN 9781988065120.
  6. ^ Leah Falk (2018-01-27). "A New Project of Survivors' Stories in Drawings, Letters, and Video Interviews". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 2020-10-27. Gerta, Molly, and Felix have likely never met, but you can read their words in one place, and watch video interviews and intimate portals that buoy and contextualize their lives, thanks to the Azrieli Foundation's Holocaust Memoirs Project.
  7. ^ Jane van Koeverden (2018-09-20). "Rebecca Rosenblum, Max Wallace nominated for $10K Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature". CBC Books. Retrieved 2020-10-28. The three books on the nonfiction shortlist are Buried Words, a memoir of Molly Applebaum's experience hiding in a box underground during the Holocaust, The Handover, Elaine Dewar's account of the sale of McClelland & Stewart to a German media giant, and Siberian Exile, in which Julija Šukys shares her grandparents' story of survival under Stalin's regime.
  8. ^ "Sexual Violence and Holocaust Testimony: A Case Study of Buried Words: The Diary of Molly Applebaum". 2018-10-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  9. ^ "Strange Work : Literary Testimony in Holocaust Narrative public lecture-SJ". University of New Brunswick. 2019-11-28. Retrieved 2020-10-28. In this lecture, Ariela Freedman looks at the poetics of literary testimony in three examples: Charlotte Salomon's artwork a clef Leben? Oder Theatre? Anna Molnar Hegedus' memoir, As the Lilacs Bloomed, and the doubled testimonial of Molly Applebaum's wartime diary and her retrospective memoir, Buried Words.
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Molly Applebaum
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