Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Reuben Ainsztein Dead at 63

December 11, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Reuben Ainsztein, one of the foremost British writers on the Holocaust, has died after a long illness. He was 63 years old. Born in Vilno, he studied before World War II in Belgium and, after the outbreak of war, made his way to England after an epic journey through France to Spain where he spent 14 months in an internment camp.

After a struggle with the British authorities, he succeeded in joining the Royal Air Force as an air gunner. During a bombing mission he had to parachute into Belgium and returned to Britain to convalesce.

After the war Ainsztein spent 11 years working for Reuters news agency and researching his mammoth book on Jewish resistance in Nazi occupied Eastern Europe which set out to dispel the belief that Jews had gone as sheep to the slaughter. The book contains detailed accounts of the uprising in the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos and in the Auschwitz and Sobibor concentration camps.

The son of Yiddish-speaking parents, his first languages were Yiddish, Polish and Russian, and he eventually became fluent in 11 languages, including Hebrew.

Several of the sections of Ainsztein’s book had been published earlier in the now defunct weekly, “Jewish Observer and Middle East Review,” of which he was also a frequent commentator on Soviet Politics and cultural trends. After leaving Reuters, Ainsztein was a researcher for The Sunday Times. He remained aloof from Jewish communal organizations in Britain but, nevertheless, enriched Jewish self-awareness by his painstaking and original writings on the Holocaust.

Recommended from JTA