Avraham Tory (born Avraham Golub in 1909) was a Lithuanian Jew who played a significant role during one of history’s most harrowing periods. As the secretary of the Jewish Council of Elders in the Kovno Ghetto during World War II, he was privy to the inner workings of the ghetto’s governance amidst the Nazi occupation, details of which he recorded in diaries kept from 1941 to 1944. Keenly aware of their value, Tory buried those diaries—and many important documents—in five crates beneath the ghetto grounds; after the war, three were recovered, unveiling a narrative so compelling that it would eventually serve as vital evidence in Nazi war crimes trials.
The Diary Entry
November 17, 1942
Gestapo officers searched Meck’s apartment most carefully and discovered a treasure—2½ kilograms of gold, diamonds, and valuables. The Gestapo ordered Meck to be hanged publicly in the Ghetto. The Jewish police have been ordered to erect the gallows and to carry out the hanging.
The Jewish police have found two young men in the detention house, both originally from Poland, who have agreed to carry out the hanging. In return, they will be released from detention.
All the Ghetto inmates were instructed by the Gestapo to hand over any weapons they might possess, bringing them to a pit at Puodžiu street. Only one old gun was surrendered in this way.
From: SA Colonel Cramer, City Governor, Kovno
To: Jewish Council, Kovno-Vilijampolé
It is henceforth forbidden to use horses within the Ghetto, except for the acquisition of materials.
Funeral hearses and all other types of wagon must henceforth be pulled by the Jews themselves.
Avraham Tory’s diary was first published in Hebrew in 1983. In 1990 it was published in English by Harvard University Press, titled Surviving the Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto Diary. Edited by Martin Gilbert; textual and historical notes by Dina Porat; translated by Jerzy Michalowicz.