About Author

Chana (Anna) Kahan was born in Siedlce in 1901. Her father, Abraham Hersz Kahan, was a butcher, and the co-owner of a butcher shop. Her mother, Rojza née Lubelska, was occupied with raising five children: Bracha, Chana (Anna), Chaim Lejb, Aaron, and Sara. The family lived at 8 Jatkowa Street (now Czerwony Krzyż Street).

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After completing three grades of the Russian primary school, Chana intended to continue her education in gymnasium (a secondary school), but her parents could not afford to pay the tuition. At the age of ten, she began working in the millinery of Ajzensztadt at 24 Warszawska Street (now J. Piłsudski Street).

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As a little girl, she read a lot in Yiddish, Polish, and Russian. After the outbreak of the First World War, she began writing a diary in Yiddish. The diary covers the period from 31 December 1914 to 26 September 1916, that is, to the moment when Anna with her sister Bracha left for the United States. Chana describes the daily life of a poor Jewish family in Siedlce, the events of the war which she witnessed, work at the millinery, social and cultural life of her peers, and she also shares her impressions about the books she read.
After arriving in the United States, Anna worked hard in New York millinery shops, studying English in the evenings. A part of the money earned, Anna sent back to her family in Siedlce to improve their difficult financial situation. In 1920, the rest of Anna’s family emigrated to America.
Anna married Harry Safran. Her children, son, Bernard Safran (1924-1995) was a famous American-born Canadian painter, and her daughter, Rhoda Newman, was a freelance writer who worked in Washington for the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress of the United States.
After the sudden death of Harry Safran, who died in 1963 in Warsaw during Anna’s first trip to Poland, she married Louis Bially. As Anna Safran, she began to be active as a poet and a writer. She released four volumes of poetry in Yiddish and a novel in English. Her works have been published in periodicals and anthologies of Jewish poetry in the United States. In 1978, Anna Kahan translated her Siedlce Diary from Yiddish to English. It was published in 1983 by the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in its YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science. Anna died in 1993, and nineteen years later, in 2012, Siedlce association tutajteraz released her Diary.

Anna U.S. 1919
A. Safran portrait by B. Safran