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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 16Focusing on Jewish Popular Culture and Its Afterlife$
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Michael C. Steinlauf and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774730

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774730.001.0001

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Urke Nachalnik: A Voice from the Underworld

Urke Nachalnik: A Voice from the Underworld

Chapter:
(p.381) Urke Nachalnik: A Voice from the Underworld
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 16
Author(s):

Gwido Zlatkes

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774730.003.0022

This chapter focuses on Urke Nachalnik, who began an eight-year sentence in Rawicz Prison in 1927 for a bank robbery in Warsaw. Urke Nachalnik belongs to the underworld, perhaps even more so today than in his own time in Poland between the wars. Equally out of place in the sentimentalized shtetl and among the heroes and heralds of progress, he belongs to the unwritten part of the Jewish past that has nearly faded from collective memory. However, there is very little written about the Jewish underworld or Jewish criminals in Poland. Two reference works, a new dictionary of Polish Jewish history and culture and an essential monograph on Jewish literature between the wars, do not mention Nachalnik at all. There are two accounts of Nachalnik's life, an apologetic one by Abram Karpinowicz and a critical one by Stanisław Milewski. Both, however, are literary in character. They lack sources, they differ in significant details, and they are inconsistent with other sources, including Nachalnik's own autobiography. Even Nachalnik's real name differs in the accounts of his life.

Keywords:   Urke Nachalnik, bank robbery, Jewish past, Jewish underworld, Jewish criminals, Poland, Polish Jewish history

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