Ida Fink (1921-2011)

Ida Fink (née Landau) is one of the writers who described the Holocaust richly and deeply based on her own experience. She was born in 1921 in Zbarazh (now Ternopil Oblast) and raised in a highly educated family: her father was a doctor, and her mother was a teacher at the Zbarazh State Gymnasium. In the late 1930s, the Landaus moved to Lviv, where Ida studied music at the conservatory of the Polish Musical Society.

Ida's mother, Franziska Landau, died of cancer in the fall of 1942 during the Second World War. Not long after that, Ida, her father, and her sister found themselves in the Zbarazh ghetto. They were looking for ways to survive and escape from the ghetto as soon as in late 1942. Ida managed to get out of there with her sister. She went into hiding until the end of the war using false documents and later had to go through forced labor in Germany. Her father, Ludwig Landau, hid in the villages near Zbarazh, in particular in the house of one of his former patients. He got to Kłodzko in Poland with the 1945 wave of repatriation, where Ida and her sister Helena found him. After the Second World War ended, Ida lived in Poland for some time and then emigrated to Israel in 1957 with her husband and young daughter.

Ida Fink began to actively write at the age of sixty. Before that, she worked as a journalist, translator, librarian, and employee at the Yad Vashem memorial, where she recorded the stories of Holocaust survivors. However, she always wanted to be a writer. Ida Fink first dared to write about her experiences at a mature age and gained worldwide recognition as a writer who recorded traumatic memories of the Holocaust. She was a member of the Association of Polish Authors in Israel, and her works have been translated into English, French, Hebrew, German, Danish, Norwegian, Italian, and other languages. Ida Fink wrote in Polish while living in Israel. Nevertheless, she won the Sapir Prize, which honors the best Hebrew authors, in 2007 as an exception was made for her. Her works were recognized by multiple other awards, such as the Anne Frank Literary Prize (1985), the Yad Vashem Prize (1995), the Special Prize of the Polish PEN Club (2003), and the Israel Prize for Literature (2008).

Two of Ida Fink’s books are now available in Ukrainian translation: The Journey and The Garden Floats Away (Pol. Odpływający ogród) were translated from Polish by Natalka Rymska and published by the Old Lion Publishing House. In 2021, as part of the Return of Ida Fink festival, a memorial plaque was installed on the façade of the house in Zbarazh where she lived. In memory of the 100th anniversary of her birthday, she was honored in Ukraine at the state level for the first time: 2021 was declared the year of Ida Fink in Ternopil Oblast, and the Ida Fink Literary Prize was awarded.