What happened to Irena Lypszyc and the man with the shotgun: Tim Snyder on statelessness in the Holocaust


Tim Snyder in 2016 (Photo: Creative Commons)

From Timothy Snyder‘s The Black Earth:

“Irena Lypszyc was a Warsaw Jew who fled to the eastern regions of Poland to escape the German invasion of September 1939, only to find herself unexpectedly under Soviet power. Such refugees were initially helped by local Jewish communities, insofar as that was possible, but were helpless when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Almost all of the local Jews were then killed, and the proportion of already displaced Jews who died must have been close to a hundred percent. After all, they had no prewar connections with the place where they found themselves, and no knowledge of the terrain.


“Like most such people, Irena Lypszyc did not know much about her new surroundings. She was in Wysock, in Polesia, when the German invasion came. When the Jews of the town were rounded up for execution in September 1942, she ran into the swamps with her husband. It does not seem that she had ever previously spent much time out of doors. The two of them lived on berries and mushrooms for a few days before decided that she would stand on the first road she found, hail the first person she saw, and ask for help.

“The man approaching her had a double-barreled shotgun on his shoulder …”

To find out what happened to Irena Lypszyc, her husband, and the man with the shotgun, listen to the video below, from Tim’s absorbing, cogent, and insightful lecture (in my opinion, his best ever) last month at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco:


One Response to “What happened to Irena Lypszyc and the man with the shotgun: Tim Snyder on statelessness in the Holocaust”

  1. Agniko Says:

    Actually, the first mass shooting in II War was in Piaśnica in october 1939. Germans killed by shooting 14 000 of Poles and Jews as the part of action AB. An historian must be correct.