The communal life of a group of people brought together by external
coercion with no deliberate intention of forming a common destiny gradually
took forms over time that were only possible on the territory of the ghetto.
Everyday life requires certain norms of working and existing. It developed its
own structure, its language, its terminology. No community anywhere in the
world could be comparable to that of the ghetto. […]
A collection of these linguistic and lexical resources forms part of the
ghetto’s cultural history. In a later period of history, one to which research
on the ghetto will belong, such a collection, such an encyclopedia, will be
able to provide elucidation where a bare description of the conditions does
not suffice. In the history of humankind, words and language – scholarship
long ago proved this thesis – have been more credible witnesses and sources
of truth than other, material memorials.
The present encyclopedia makes no claim to be exhaustive and an
unambiguous definition of terms. But it believes it has come close to this
targeted goal. […]
Oskar Rosenfeld, December 1, 1943.