Among the many problems facing Holocaust survivors in the Displaced Persons camps in Germany was a scarcity of books.
One notable figure who devoted himself to meet the spiritual needs of the survivors was Rabbi Nachum Mermelstein, a survivor himself, who founded a kollel in memory of the six million victims in 1946. The kollel, aptly named Kollel Kiddush Hashem, was founded in the Landsberg D.P. Camp in Elul of 1946.
In 1948, Mermelstein published a Mishnah volume for use in the camps and in memory of the victims. The cover and title page display the emblem of the Kollel Kiddush Hashem, which features a burning candle and the words: “6,000,000 kedoshim, may G-d avenge their blood, founded Elul 5706.”
A bookplate on the free-end of a copy I just acquired states that it was donated by the kollel to the Beit Medrash in the Windsheim, Germany, D.P. Camp. In his introduction to the work, Mermelstein writes that while books have been published in the D. P. Camps, some basics are hard to come by, such as the Mishnah.
He writes that he hopes people will learn Mishnayos in memory of the victims and that the martyrs will beseech G-d on our behalf and we will see salvation and an end to our suffering.
Following his introduction, Mermelstein writes: “At this opportunity, when we are publishing the Mishnah in the land of Germany, the land of our blood, where multitudes of Jews were murdered and burned to death in cruel forms, it is an obligation to mention the names of my relatives who were among the victims so that they may be remembered for eternity.” This is followed by an extensive list of his murdered family, including his wife, in-laws, and several of his children.