In 1939, Baruch Goldstein was a religiously observant adolescent resident of the Jewish community in Mlawa, a town that was then in East Prussia. After war broke out, the Jewish community there was relatively sheltered, as that region was incorporated into the German Reich rather than into the General Government (the German run-fragment of pre-war Poland, where conditions were harsh for everyone). However in 1942, Goldstein was sent to Auschwitz, where he stayed two-and-a-half years. His family was scattered all to their deaths, but he survived the war--barely. For Decades I Was Silent is an account of life in a small Polish-German town and provides information on the religious life of the Jewish citizens. This book creates a direct sense of the random, mystifying personal violence individuals felt at the hands of Germans--not the anonymous industrial death machine, but immediate, face-to-face violence.
After the war, Goldstein drifted as a refugee to UNRR camps in Italy. Over time, young Goldstein had to face the fact that all of his extended family was lost and he had only the possibilities of Palestine or help from distant relatives in the United States as a future. His American relatives urged him to enter the United States as a yeshiva student, and eventually he became a rabbi and started a family. As a young rabbinical student, and then as a rabbi, Goldstein was forced to confront the events of the Holocaust and the damage done to his faith. This well-written and evocative book eloquently handles Goldstein’s story.
Nancy Sinkoff's new introduction explores the historical forces, particularly the dynamic world of secular Yiddish culture, which shaped Dawidowicz's decision to journey to Poland and her reassessment of those forces in the last years of her life.
A project of the Holocaust Resource Center of Kean University, New Jersey, this book is a reference tool for teaching the Holocaust, for Holocaust survivors and their families, and for the general reader. Drawing on the center’s central missions is to produce and preserve a series of oral-history videotapes based on the personal experiences of Holocaust survivors who reside in New Jersey. Joseph J. Preil brings together the most compelling testimonies of 153 Holocaust survivors as well as twenty concentration-camp liberators. Through these riveting accounts, the book traces the mass murder of the Jews across Europe in a geographical as well as chronological order. The testimonies in each chapter are grouped by the witnesses’ country or region of origin, preceded by a brief introduction of the history of events in a particular area. In the last part of the book, American soldiers recount their impressions of being present at the liberation of the camps.
“If you can imagine that the Jew to the German was like a cockroach. In the United States, if you step on a cockroach . . . it doesn’t mean anything to you. The same thing, exactly the same thing, the Jew was to the German—a cockroach. . . . One particular Shabbos (Sabbath), they shot twelve or thirteen people in my area. In other words, the German had the right, if he saw me, any Jew that he saw in the street, he could go over to you calmly, take out his revolver, and put it to your head, and shoot you down like a . . . roach. . . . It was a free-for-all.”—Testimony of Sol Einhorn, cited in Holocaust Testimonies: European Survivors and American Liberators in New Jersey
In the Aftermath of Genocide reveals that Armenian and Jewish survivors rarely sought to shed the obvious symbols of their ethnic and religious identities. Mandel shows that following the 1915 genocide and the Holocaust, these communities, if anything, seemed increasingly willing to mobilize in their own self-defense and thereby call attention to their distinctiveness. Most Armenian and Jewish survivors were neither prepared to give up their minority status nor willing to migrate to their national homelands of Armenia and Israel. In the Aftermath of Genocide suggests that the consolidation of the nation-state system in twentieth-century Europe led survivors of genocide to fashion identities for themselves as ethnic minorities despite the dangers implicit in that status.
Among the Kalman cousins are an art gallery owner, a body builder, a radio personality, a former chief financial officer of a prominent U.S. bank, and a sculptor. They discuss Zionism, anti-Semitism, what it means to root for the German soccer team, Schindler’s List, money, success, marriage and intermarriage, and family history. They reveal their different levels of engagement with Judaism and involvement with local Jewish communities. Kalman is a pseudonym, and their anonymity allows the family members to talk with passion and candor about their relationships and their lives as Jews.
Kibbutz Buchenwald is the story of a nightmare that became a dream and a dream that became a reality. Emerging from the depths of the liberated concentration camp Buchenwald in the spring of 1945, a group of sixteen gaunt and battered young men organized and formed Kibbutz Buchenwald, the first agricultural collective in postwar Germany designed to prepare Jews for emigation to Palestine. What caused a handful of survivors to take their fate into their own hands within days of their liberation, at a time when most survivors were passively awaiting orders from the occupying forces? From what wellsprings did they draw the physical and emotional strength to begin life anew as Zionist pioneers in a world which had turned upside down?
Judith Baumel's moving account of this courageous group is divided into two parts. Part One, entitled "The Dream," examines the kibbutz from its creation in Germany until the departure of the founding group for Palestine in the summer of 1945. Part Two, "The Reality," follows the members of Kibbutz Buchenwald into Palestine, where they eventually established their own independent settlement in 1948. This settlement exists as Kibbutz Netzer Sereni today.
Drawing from the diaries of the kibbutz's founding members, Baumel provides a detailed account of an incredible story and places the central narrative in the larger contexts of communal living, European politics after the war, and the link between European Jewry and Israeli postwar nationhood. An afterword, "Where Are They Now," briefly describes the later life of each of the original kibbutz members.
"Sixty-seven members of my family—my mother, her father, my three sisters, three of my brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins—were murdered at Auschwitz."As Rudolph Tessler's mother stepped from the train in Auschwitz, shortly before she was sent to the gas chamber, she heard "Hello, Esther." In a polite tone, a young German SS officer greeted her as he would any old friend. His family lived down the road from the Tessler family in Viseu, their hometown in northern Romania. They, like the rest of the town, admired Esther for her wonderful cooking, particularly the delicious cakes she brought them each Christmas. Now he ushered her and six of her children to their deaths.
Throughout Letter to My Children, Tessler offers vivid glimpses of the senselessness that surrounded him during World War II. Of the thousands packed in trains and transported from Viseu to Auschwitz, just a small group survived to see liberation. Among the survivors were Tessler, his father, and two of his brothers. This is the amazing story of their experiences as Hasidic Jews caught in the chaos and terror of the Holocaust.
Tessler's upbringing had emphasized community and family devotion—traits not forgotten in the concentration camps, where he and his family members often rescued one another from certain death. Few fathers and sons survived the concentration camps together. In spite of the odds, Tessler and his brother Buroch managed to stick together, sharing their father's labor assignments to protect him from death, preserving not only their family bond but also their spirituality. Tessler's father, always a source of strength and guidance to his family, provided counsel to many prisoners in the camp and eventually assumed the role of rabbi.
Despite an environment in which their captors tried to reduce them to animals, Tessler's remaining family and seven other Jews from Viseu made a special effort to observe their faith. Bending rules in ways that risked their lives, they worked together to smuggle wheat, grind it into flour, and bake matzos to distribute for Passover. The group also secretly gathered to pray on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. These religious observances offered some comfort in the camp.
In addition to vividly portraying the daily struggles of camp life, Letter to My Children follows Tessler beyond liberation, recounting his days as a displaced person struggling for a new life in the midst of the devastation of postwar Europe, as an American immigrant striving to rebuild his family and succeed in business, and as a philanthropist for education and health care. Recalling the age-old way of life in Viseu that was erased by the Holocaust, this inspiring story conveys the hope, determination, and perseverance that made Tessler a survivor.
Fleeing the Nazis in the months before World War II, the Korman family scattered from a Polish refugee camp with the hope of reuniting in America. The father sailed to Cuba on the ill-fated St. Louis; the mother left for the United States after sending her two sons on a Kindertransport. One of the sons was Gerd Korman, whose memoir follows his own path—from the family’s deportation from Hamburg, through his time with an Anglican family in rural England, to the family’s reunited life in New York City. His memoir plumbs the depths of twentieth-century history to rescue the remarkable life story of one of its survivors.
One woman’s national, political, ethnic, social, and personal identities impart an extraordinary perspective on the histories of Europe, Polish Jews, Communism, activism, and survival during the twentieth century.
Tonia Lechtman was a Jew, a loving mother and wife, a Polish patriot, a committed Communist, and a Holocaust survivor. Throughout her life these identities brought her to multiple countries—Poland, Palestine, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Israel—during some of the most pivotal and cataclysmic decades of the twentieth century. In most of those places, she lived on the margins of society while working to promote Communism and trying to create a safe space for her small children.
Born in Łódź in 1918, Lechtman became fascinated with Communism in her early youth. In 1935, to avoid the consequences of her political activism during an increasingly antisemitic and hostile political environment, the family moved to Palestine, where Tonia met her future husband, Sioma. In 1937, the couple traveled to Spain to participate in the Spanish Civil War. After discovering she was pregnant, Lechtman relocated to France while Sioma joined the International Brigades. She spent the Second World War in Europe, traveling with two small children between France, Germany, and Switzerland, at times only miraculously avoiding arrest and being transported east to Nazi camps. After the war, she returned to Poland, where she planned to (re)build Communist Poland. However, soon after her arrival she was imprisoned for six years. In 1971, under pressure from her children, Lechtman emigrated from Poland to Israel, where she died in 1996.
In writing Lechtman’s biography, Anna Müller has consulted a rich collection of primary source material, including archival documentation, private documents and photographs, interviews from different periods of Lechtman’s life, and personal correspondence. Despite this intimacy, Müller also acknowledges key historiographical questions arising from the lacunae of lost materials, the selective preservation of others, and her own interpretive work translating a life into a life story.
At the age of twenty-five, Primo Levi was sent to Hell. Levi, an Italian chemist from Turin, was one of many swept up in the Holocaust of World War II and sent to die in the German concentration camp in Auschwitz. Of the 650 people transported to the camp in his group, only 15 men and 9 women survived. After Soviet liberation of the camp in 1945, Levi wrote books, essays, short stories, poetry, and a novel, in which he painstakingly described the horrors of his experience at Auschwitz. He also spent the rest of his life struggling with the fact that he was not among those who were killed.
In Primo Levi and the Politics of Survival, Frederic D. Homer looks at Primo Levi's life but, more important, shows him to be a significant political philosopher. In the course of his writings, Levi asked and answered his most haunting question: can someone be brutalized by a terrifying experience and, upon return to "ordinary life," recover from the physical and moral destruction he has suffered? Levi used this question to develop a philosophy positing that although man is no match for life, he can become better prepared to contend with the tragedies in life.
According to Levi, the horrors of the world occur because of the strength of human tendencies, which make relationships between human beings exceedingly fragile. He believed that we are ill-constituted beings who have tendencies toward violence and domination, dividing ourselves into Us and Them, with very shallow loyalties. He also maintained that our only refuge is in education and responsibility, which may counter these tendencies. Homer calls Levi's philosophy "optimistic pessimism."
As Homer demonstrates, Levi took his past experiences into account to determine that goodwill and democratic institutions do not come easily to people. Liberal society is to be earned through discipline and responsibility toward our weaknesses. Levi's answer is "civilized liberalism." To achieve this we must counter some of our most stubborn tendencies.
Homer also explores the impact of Levi's death, an apparent suicide, on the way in which his work and theories have been perceived. While several critics discount Levi's work because of the nature of his death, Homer argues that his death is consistent with his philosophy. A book rich in brutally honest philosophy, Primo Levi and the Politics of Survival compels one to look at serious questions about life, tragedy, optimism, solidarity, violence, and human nature.
Until February 15, 2001, Howard Reich’s mother, Sonia, had managed to keep almost everything about her experience of the Holocaust from her son. That night, she packed some clothes and fled her house in Skokie, Illinois, convinced that someone was trying to kill her. This was the first indication that she was suffering from late-onset post traumatic stress disorder, a little-known condition that can emerge decades after the initial trauma. For Howard, it was also the opening of a window onto his mother’s past.
In Prisoner of Her Past, Howard Reich has written a moving memoir about growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors and finding refuge from silence and fear in the world of jazz. It is only when Sonia’s memories overwhelm her and Howard begins to piece together her story that he comes to understand how his parents’ lives shaped his own. The paperback edition includes an epilogue by the author that relates developments since the publication of the cloth edition.
Contributors explore diasporic Jewish identities in the post-Holocaust years; the use of sociohistorical analysis in studying the genocide; immigration and transnationalism; and collective action, collective guilt, and collective memory. In so doing, they illuminate various facets of the Holocaust, and especially post-Holocaust, experience. They investigate topics including heritage tours that take young American Jews to Israel and Eastern Europe, the politics of memory in Steven Spielberg’s collection of Shoah testimonies, and the ways that Jews who immigrated to the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union understood nationality, religion, and identity. Contributors examine the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 in light of collective action research and investigate the various ways that the Holocaust has been imagined and recalled in Germany, Israel, and the United States. Included in the commentaries about sociology and Holocaust studies is an essay reflecting on how to study the Holocaust (and other atrocities) ethically, without exploiting violence and suffering.
Contributors. Richard Alba, Caryn Aviv, Ethel Brooks, Rachel L. Einwohner, Yen Le Espiritu, Leela Fernandes, Kathie Friedman, Judith M. Gerson, Steven J. Gold , Debra R. Kaufman, Rhonda F. Levine , Daniel Levy, Jeffrey K. Olick, Martin Oppenheimer, David Shneer, Irina Carlota Silber, Arlene Stein, Natan Sznaider, Suzanne Vromen, Chaim Waxman, Richard Williams, Diane L. Wolf
Izrael Zachariah Deutsch was born on March 15, 1934, in Komjata, Czechoslovakia. The second youngest child, Izrael lived a bucolic existence with nine brothers and sisters on a farm, differing from them only in that he was deaf. When he was six, his mother took him to Budapest, Hungary, and enrolled him in a Jewish school for deaf children, where he thrived. Soon, however, the Nazi regime in Germany and the Arrow Cross fascists in Hungary destroyed Izrael’s world forever.
Izrael realized that by being both Jewish and deaf, he faced a double threat of being exported to the gas chambers in Poland. But at every lethal junction, he found a way to survive, first by buying and reselling pastries for extra money that later saved his life in the Budapest ghetto. Still, Izrael was close to death from starvation when he was liberated by Russian soldiers on January 18, 1945.
Izrael survived the war only to learn that his parents and two brothers had been murdered by the Nazis. The rest of his brothers and sisters scattered to distant parts of the world. Forced to remain in Budapest, Izrael finished school and became an accomplished machinist. He avoided any part in the Hungarian uprising in 1956 so that he could secure a visa to leave for Sweden. From Sweden he traveled throughout Europe and Israel, using an amazing network of Holocaust survivors, relatives, and deaf friends to ease his journey. He finally settled in Los Angeles, where he married a deaf Jewish woman he had met years before. Along the way, he changed his name from Izrael Deutsch to Harry Dunai.
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