Bronstein's Children
Jurek Becker
University of Chicago Press, 1999
"East Berlin, 1973: an 18-year-old Jew discovers that his father's friends are holding prisoner a former Nazi concentration camp guard in the family cottage. The three older men have handcuffed the ex-Nazi to the bed and are interrogating and torturing him in an attempt to get him to admit to his war crimes. . . . Becker keenly shows the tension between members of the Holocaust generation and their children, who are unable to understand the complexity of that nightmarish era of human history."—Booklist

"[A] chilly, disquieting novel about historical slippage; about the seemingly inevitable decline of horror into a vague and generic recollection. The East German writer has devised something between story and allegory to evoke the cold generational millennium that separates a father, with his concentration-camp memories, from a son, adrift in a society with no memories whatsoever."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Mr. Becker, writing simply and clearly in an unstrained narrative, speaks with the voice of knowledge, and we do well to listen to him."—Eva Figes, New York Times Book Review

Jurek Becker (1937-1998) is the author of Jacob the Liar, Sleepless Days, The Boxer, and Amanda Herzlos.
[more]

Cadaverland
Inventing a Pathology of Catastrophe for Holocaust Survival [The Limits of Medical Knowledge and Historical Memory in France]
Michael Dorland
Brandeis University Press, 2009
In this extraordinary study, Michael Dorland explores sixty years of medical attempts by French doctors (mainly in the fields of neuropsychiatry and psychoanalysis) to describe the effects of concentration camp incarceration on Holocaust survivors. Dorland begins with a discussion of the liberation of concentration camp survivors, their stay in deportation camps, and eventual return to France, analyzing the circulation of mainly medical (neuropsychiatric) knowledge, its struggles to establish a symptomology of camp effects, and its broadening out into connected medical fields such as psychoanalysis. He then turns specifically to the French medical doctors who studied Holocaust survivors, and he investigates somatic, psychological, and holistic conceptions of survivors as patients and human beings. The final third of the book offers a comparative look at the “psy-science” approach to Holocaust survival beyond France, particularly in the United States and Israel. He illuminates the peculiar journey of a medical discourse that began in France but took on new forms elsewhere, eventually expanding into nonmedical fields to create the basis of the “traumato-culture” with which we are familiar today. Embedding his analysis of different medical discourses in the sociopolitical history of France in the twentieth century, he also looks at the French Jewish Question as it affected French medicine, the effects of five years of Nazi Occupation, France’s enthusiastic collaboration, and the problems this would pose for postwar collective memory.
[more]

Case Closed
Holocaust Survivors in Postwar America
Cohen, Beth B
Rutgers University Press, 2006
Following the end of World War II, it was widely reported by the media that Jewish refugees found lives filled with opportunity and happiness in America. However, for most of the 140,000 Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) who immigrated to the United States from Europe in the years between 1946 and 1954, it was a much more complicated story.

Case Closed challenges the prevailing optimistic perception of the lives of Holocaust survivors in postwar America by scrutinizing their first years through the eyes of those who lived it. The facts brought forth in this book are supported by case files recorded by Jewish social service workers, letters and minutes from agency meetings, oral testimonies, and much more.

Cohen explores how the Truman Directive allowed the American Jewish community to handle the financial and legal responsibility for survivors, and shows what assistance the community offered the refugees and what help was not available. She investigates the particularly difficult issues that orphan children and Orthodox Jews faced, and examines the subtleties of the resettlement process in New York and other locales. Cohen uncovers the truth of survivors' early years in America and reveals the complexity of their lives as "New Americans."
[more]

Child Survivors of the Holocaust
The Youngest Remnant and the American Experience
Cohen, Beth B
Rutgers University Press, 2018
2017 Wiener Library Ernst Fraenkel Prize (WLEFP) Finalist

The majority of European Jewish children alive in 1939 were murdered during the Holocaust. Of 1.5 million children, only an estimated 150,000 survived. In the aftermath of the Shoah, efforts by American Jews brought several thousand of these child survivors to the United States. In Child Survivors of the Holocaust, historian Beth B. Cohen weaves together survivor testimonies and archival documents to bring their story to light. She reveals that even as child survivors were resettled and “saved,” they struggled to adapt to new lives as members of adoptive families, previously unknown American Jewish kin networks, or their own survivor relatives. Nonetheless, the youngsters moved ahead. As Cohen demonstrates, the experiences both during and after the war shadowed their lives and relationships through adulthood, yet an identity as “survivors” eluded them for decades. Now, as the last living link to the Holocaust, the voices of Child Survivors are finally being heard. 
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Conversations with Primo Levi
Ferdinando Camon
Northwestern University Press, 1989
Beginning in 1982 and at intervals over the next four years Ferdinando Camon traveled to Turin for a series of meetings with Primo Levi. This book is the record of their dialogues. Levi spoke of the war, of anti-Semitism, of the camps, of German guilt, of Israel's emergence, and of his own extraordinary life and work. The give-and-take of the discussion, its tone, its lucidity, its intelligence, lift it well above the level and format of the usual journalistic interview with a celebrated author.
[more]

Echoes From The Holocaust
A Memoir
Mira Ryczke Kimmelman
University of Tennessee Press, 1996
Echoes from the Holocaust
A Memoir
Mira Ryczke Kimmelman

"During the most difficult times of World War II," Mira Kimmelman writes, "I wondered whether the world really knew what was happening to us. I lived in total isolation, not knowing what was taking place outside the ghetto gates, outside the barbed wires of concentration camps. After the war, would anyone ever believe my experiences?"
Kimmelman had no way of preserving her experiences on paper while they happened, but she trained herself to remember. And now, as a survivor of the Holocaust, she has preserved her recollections for posterity in this powerful and moving book—one woman's personal perspective on a terrible moment in human history.
The daughter of a Jewish seed exporter, the author was born Mira Ryczke in 1923 in a suburb of the Baltic seaport of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland). Her childhood was happy, and she learned to cherish her faith and heritage. Through the 1930s, Mira's family remained in the Danzig area despite a changing political climate that was compelling many friends and neighbors to leave. With the Polish capitulation to Germany in the autumn of 1939, however, Mira and her family were forced from their home. In calm, straightforward prose—which makes her story all the more harrowing—Kimmelman recalls the horrors that befell her and those she loved. Sent to Auschwitz in 1944, she escaped the gas chambers by being selected for  slave labor. Finally, as the tide of war turned against Germany, Mira was among those transported to Bergen-Belsen, where tens of thousands were dying from starvation, disease, and exposure. In April 1945, British troops liberated the camp, and Mira was eventually reunited with her father. Most of the other members of her family had perished.
In the closing chapters, Kimmelman describes her marriage, her subsequent life in the United States, and her visits to Israel and to the places in Europe where the  events of her youth transpired. Even when confronted with the worst in humankind, she observes, she never lost hope or succumbed to despair. She concludes with an eloquent reminder: "If future generations fail to protect the truth, it vanishes. . . . Only by remembering the bitter lesson of Hitler’s legacy can we hope it will never be repeated. Teach it, tell it, read it."
The Author: Mira Ryczke Kimmelman is a resident of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and lectures widely in schools about her experiences during the Holocaust.
[more]

Expanding historical counsciousness
the development of the Holocaust Educational Foundation
Anita. Weiner
Northwestern University Press, 2003

For Decades I Was Silent
A Holocaust Survivor's Journey Back to Faith
Baruch G. Goldstein
University of Alabama Press, 2008

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.

[more]

From that Place and Time
A Memoir, 1938-1947
Dawidowicz, Lucy
Rutgers University Press, 2008
From that Place and Time is the memoir of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, an American-Jewish historian who set out to study Yiddish language and Jewish history at YIVO, the Jewish Scientific Institute in Vilna, Poland, in 1938. Escaping Poland only days before the Nazi onslaught, she worked in the New York YIVO during the war, and returned to Europe from 1946 to 1947 to aid Jewish displaced persons in Munich and Belsen with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Dawidowicz's memoir not only describes her pre-war year in Jewish Eastern Europe, but also treats the ghostly post-war period, and her role in salvaging what remained of Vilna's scorched Jewish archives and libraries.

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.

[more]

The Holocaust, Corporations, and the Law
Unfinished Business
Leora Bilsky
University of Michigan Press, 2017
The Holocaust, Corporations, and the Law explores the challenge posed by the Holocaust to legal and political thought by examining issues raised by the restitution class action suits brought against Swiss banks and German corporations before American federal courts in the 1990s. Although the suits were settled for unprecedented amounts of money, the defendants did not formally assume any legal responsibility. Thus, the lawsuits were bitterly criticized by lawyers for betraying justice and by historians for distorting history.

Leora Bilsky argues class action litigation and settlement offer a mode of accountability well suited to addressing the bureaucratic nature of business involvement in atrocities. Prior to these lawsuits, legal treatment of the Holocaust was dominated by criminal law and its individualistic assumptions, consistently failing to relate to the structural aspects of Nazi crimes. Engaging critically with contemporary debates about corporate responsibility for human rights violations and assumptions about “law,” she argues for the need to design processes that make multinational corporations accountable, and examines the implications for transitional justice, the relationship between law and history, and for community and representation in a post-national world. Her novel interpretation of the restitution lawsuits not only adds an important dimension to the study of Holocaust trials, but also makes an innovative contribution to broader and pressing contemporary legal and political debates. In an era when corporations are ever more powerful and international, Bilsky’s arguments will attract attention beyond those interested in the Holocaust and its long shadow.
 
[more]

Holocaust Literature
A History and Guide
David G. Roskies and Naomi Diamant
Brandeis University Press, 2013
What is Holocaust literature? When does it begin and how is it changing? Is there an essential core that consists of diaries, eyewitness accounts of the concentration camps, and tales of individual survival? Is it the same everywhere: West and East, in Australia as in the Americas, in poetry as in prose? Is this literature sacred and separate, or can it be studied alongside other responses to catastrophe? What works of Holocaust literature will be read a hundred years from now—and why? Here, for the first time, is a historical survey of Holocaust literature in all genres, countries, and major languages. Beginning in wartime, it proceeds from the literature of mobilization and mourning in the Free World to the vast literature produced in Nazi-occupied ghettos, bunkers and places of hiding, transit and concentration camps. No less remarkable is the new memorial literature that begins to take shape within weeks and months of the liberation. Moving from Europe to Israel, the United States, and beyond, the authors situate the writings by real and proxy witnesses within three distinct postwar periods: “communal memory,” still internal and internecine; “provisional memory” in the 1960s and 1970s, when a self-conscious Holocaust genre is born; and “authorized memory,” in which we live today. Twenty book covers—first editions in their original languages—and a guide to the “first hundred books” show the multilingual scope, historical depth, and artistic range of this extraordinary body of writing.
[more]

Holocaust Survivors in Canada
Exclusion, Inclusion, Transformation, 1947-1955
Adara Goldberg
University of Manitoba Press, 2015

Holocaust Testimonies
European Survivors and American Liberators in New Jersey
Preil, Joseph J
Rutgers University Press, 2001

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

[more]

In the Aftermath of Genocide
Armenians and Jews in Twentieth-Century France
Maud S. Mandel
Duke University Press, 2003
France is the only Western European nation home to substantial numbers of survivors of the World War I and World War II genocides. In the Aftermath of Genocide offers a unique comparison of the country’s Armenian and Jewish survivor communities. By demonstrating how—in spite of significant differences between these two populations—striking similarities emerge in the ways each responded to genocide, Maud S. Mandel illuminates the impact of the nation-state on ethnic and religious minorities in twentieth-century Europe and provides a valuable theoretical framework for considering issues of transnational identity. Investigating each community’s response to its violent past, Mandel reflects on how shifts in ethnic, religious, and national affiliations were influenced by that group’s recent history. The book examines these issues in the context of France’s long commitment to a politics of integration and homogenization—a politics geared toward the establishment of equal rights and legal status for all citizens, but not toward the accommodation of cultural diversity.

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.

[more]

Jewish and Romani Families in the Holocaust and its Aftermath
Eliyana R. Adler
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Diaries, testimonies and memoirs of the Holocaust often include at least as much on the family as on the individual. Victims of the Nazi regime experienced oppression and made decisions embedded within families. Even after the war, sole survivors often described their losses and rebuilt their lives with a distinct focus on family. Yet this perspective is lacking in academic analyses.
 
In this work, scholars from the United States, Israel, and across Europe bring a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to their study of the Holocaust and its aftermath from the family perspective. Drawing on research from Belarus to Great Britain, and examining both Jewish and Romani families, they demonstrate the importance of recognizing how people continued to function within family units—broadly defined—throughout the war and afterward.
[more]

Jewish Families in Europe, 1939-Present
History, Representation, and Memory
Edited by Joanna Beata Michlic
Brandeis University Press, 2017
This book offers an extensive introduction and 13 diverse essays on how World War II, the Holocaust, and their aftermath affected Jewish families and Jewish communities, with an especially close look at the roles played by women, youth, and children. Focusing on Eastern and Central Europe, themes explored include: how Jewish parents handled the Nazi threat; rescue and resistance within the Jewish family unit; the transformation of gender roles under duress; youth’s wartime and early postwar experiences; postwar reconstruction of the Jewish family; rehabilitation of Jewish children and youth; and the role of Zionism in shaping the present and future of young survivors. Relying on newly available archival material and novel research in the areas of families, youth, rescue, resistance, gender, and memory, this volume will be an indispensable guide to current work on the familial and social history of the Holocaust.
[more]

A Jewish Family in Germany Today
An Intimate Portrait
Y. Michal Bodemann
Duke University Press, 2005
Immediately after the Holocaust, it seemed inconceivable that a Jewish community would rebuild in Germany. What was once unimaginable has now come to pass: Germany is home to one of Europe’s most vibrant Jewish communities, and it has the fastest growing Jewish immigrant population of any country in the world outside Israel. By sharing the life stories of members of one Jewish family—the Kalmans—Y. Michal Bodemann provides an intimate look at what it is like to live as a Jew in Germany today. Having survived concentration camps in Poland, four Kalman siblings—three brothers and a sister—were left stranded in Germany after the war. They built new lives and a major enterprise; they each married and had children. Over the past fifteen years Bodemann conducted extensive interviews with the Kalmans, mostly with the survivors’ ten children, who were born between 1948 and 1964. In these oral histories, he shares their thoughts on Judaism, work, family, and community. Staying in Germany is not a given; four of the ten cousins live in Israel and the United States.

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.

[more]

Kibbutz Buchenwald
Survivors and Pioneers
Baumel, Judith T
Rutgers University Press, 1997

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.

[more]

Ladies & Gentleman, The Original Music
Of The Hebrew Alphabet And Weekend In Mustarra
Curt Leviant
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002
Filled with Curt Leviant's signature blend of humor and drama, these two enchanting and original novellas lure readers into a dazzling storybook world.
    "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Original Music of the Hebrew Alphabet" is set in Budapest during the Communist era. The story focuses on the tenuous seesaw between Dr. Isaac Gantz, a musicologist, and engineer Ferdinand Friedman, a Holocaust survivor who believes that he possesses one of the greatest manuscripts of the ages, a Rosetta Stone of Judaica. Friedman is willing to share it—but there is a "but." In pursuing this prize, Gantz enters a world of strange human relationships filled with doubts and surprises. A vibrant cast of characters adds dimension to this gripping story in which Jewish folklore, music, and history coalesce.
    "Weekend in Mustara" unfolds on the fictional island of Mustara in southern Europe, a mountainous, totalitarian country that tolerates Judaism. Its few Jews cling to their heritage, embodied in their beautiful but sparsely attended synagogue and their museum, where a great memorial book is inscribed with the names of all Mustara Jews martyred during World War II. A scholar of medieval Hebrew manuscripts comes to the island, searching for traces of Yehuda Halevi, the great Hebrew poet of the Spanish Golden Age. He is soon enmeshed among elusive personalities and tangled loyalties, but only when he finds himself displaced in time—in a kind of theater of the absurd—are the purposes of his journey finally realized.
[more]

The Last Eyewitnesses
Children of the Holocaust Speak
Wiktoria Sliwowska
Northwestern University Press, 1998
These testimonies, submitted by individual authors and not originally intended for publication, were assembled as a historical record by the Association of the Children of the Holocaust in Poland. While evil and brutal anti-Semitism are described, the accounts also reveal the great risks taken by courageous individuals in order to save Jewish children.
[more]

The Last Eyewitnesses, Volume 2
The Children of the Holocaust Speak
Jakub Gutenbaum and Agnieszka Latala
Northwestern University Press, 2005
The memoirs of Jews who were children during the Nazi occupation of Poland

This book serves as a memorial to loved ones who do not even have a grave, as well as a tribute to those who risked their lives and families to save a Jewish child. A wide variety of experiences during the Nazi occupation of Poland are related with wrenching simplicity and candor, experiences that illustrate horrors and deprivation, but also present examples of courage and compassion.

These recollections-whether of hiding in forests or camouflaged bunkers, fighting with groups of partisans, enduring the horrors of concentration camps, or living in fear under disguised identities-serve as eloquent testimony to the depth, diversity, and richness of humanity under siege and offer a powerful lesson for future generations. Written by people who remained in Poland after the war, these accounts convey a great immediacy; the authors are not removed from the environment in which these experiences took place. The psychological impact on these child survivors and the difficulties they encountered even after the war are very poignant. The passing years have brought urgency to the publication of these stories, as those who wrote them are the last surviving eyewitnesses of these tumultuous events.
 
[more]

Letter to My Children
From Romania to America via Auschwitz
Rudolph Tessler
University of Missouri Press, 1999

"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.

[more]

Life Beyond the Holocaust
Memories and Realities
Mira Ryczke Kimmelman
University of Tennessee Press, 2005
“For the rare Jews of Poland who managed to survive the Holocaust, the very idea of a return to what had been one’s homeland might seem both physically and psychologically impossible, perhaps even absurd. Yet it is precisely this paradoxical journey that Mira Kimmelman undertakes with great dignity and generosity. In words that are both direct and intimate, she exposes the ambivalence of what it means to learn to live again after Auschwitz—to experience love, raise a family, and assume a steadfast place in the Jewish community of a new land. At the same time, she acknowledges the abyss of losses that can never be retrieved. Perhaps even more importantly, Mira reveals how the pain of a return is transformed into a new adventure of discovery and reconciliation to be shared with her sons, their families, and her readers for generations to come.”—Karen D. LevyProfessor of French StudiesUniversity of Tennessee
“This book is written with intelligence, sensitivity, and eloquence. As a post-Holocaust memoir, it is an excellent volume, inasmuch as it brings out the scope of the Holocaust, its impact on future generations, and how it affects our understanding of past generations. The author explores and elucidates the problems of liberation from death and the return to life that forever confront Holocaust survivors.” —David Patterson Bornblum Chair in Judaic Studies University of Memphis
“Life beyond the Holocaust brings to mind in its power to document painful memories Primo Levi’s The Reawakening. Ms. Kimmelman’s memoir is, above all, a beautiful love story of herself and her husband, Max. She writes in a vernacular style that evokes her experiences with specific details. Her book is alive … and celebrates in good prose human values triumphing over radical evil.” —Hugh Nissenson
[more]

MAKING STORIES, MAKING SELVES
FEMINIST REFLECTIONS ON THE HOLOCAUST
R. RUTH LINDEN
The Ohio State University Press, 1995
Ruth Linden's bold, experimental book explores the interconnected processes of remembering, storytelling, and self-fashioning. Juxtaposing autobiography and ethnography, Linden begins this study by situating herself in the context of her assimilated Jewish family, where the Holocaust was shrouded in silences.

Urged forward by these silences, Linden, a feminist and sociologist, began to interview Jewish Holocaust survivors in 1983. As Linden interprets survivors' accounts of the death camps and the resistance, she reveals complex ways in which selves are constructed through storytelling. The stories that unfold are continuously fashioned and refashioned—never stripped of context or frozen in time. What emerges is an unexpectedly elegant montage in which interviewee, interviewer, and author are intertwined.

Linden's meetings with survivors and her encounters with their stories transformed her as a feminist, a Jew, and a social scientist. Her analysis reveals the intimate connections between an ethnographer's lived experience and her interpretations of others'. Linden's reflections on the process of ethnography belie the rhetoric of positivism in the social sciences. They will inspire other scholars to break free of research and writing practices in their own disciplines that efface the ineluctable bond between knower and known. All readers will be challenged to reexamine the Holocaust in an intensely personal light and to reconsider the meanings of survival in our own time.

Cutting across the boundaries of ethnography and autobiography to create a new kind of text, Making Stories, Making Selves offers a significant contribution to interpretive social science and the literature of the Holocaust. Linden's original and courageous work is vital reading for Holocaust scholars, students of modern Jewish life, sociologists, feminist theorists, and all readers seeking to understand their own relationship to the Holocaust.
[more]

Mothers, Sisters, Resisters
Oral Histories of Women Who Survived the Holocaust
Brana Gurewitsch
University of Alabama Press, 1999
Provides an important historical record of women’s experiences during the Holocaust
 
In Mothers, Sisters, Resisters, twenty-five survivors of the Holocaust furnish compelling and historically vital testimony that illuminates and explores Jewish women's experiences during that terrible period. In entries that preserve each voice, personality, and style, survivors describe their efforts to evade Nazi laws and subsequent dehumanization, protect their children and siblings, and maintain their Jewish identity.
 
Throughout each narrative, from Brandla Small’s description of having her child dragged from her arms at Auschwitz, to Eva Schonbrun’s remembrances of her sister who refused to leave her siblings and save herself, to Emilie Schindler’s account of rescuing Jews left abandoned on a cattle car, we become intimately involved with each woman's struggle and eventual survival. We also gain a new appreciation and understanding of the Holocaust experiences unique to women.
 
[more]

My Version of the Facts
Carla Pekelis, translated from the Italian by George Hochfield
Northwestern University Press, 2005
"What did it mean to be a Jewish child in Italy at the beginning of the century?" Carla Pekelis asks herself. "As a matter of fact, nothing, absolutely nothing!" But shortly, as fascism began its march through her homeland and racial laws slowly constricted her world, Carla would learn that being a Jew in Italy might indeed have a profound meaning and dire consequences. Her recollections form an absorbing, nuanced portrait of a life transformed, and a world transfigured, by the relentless currents of history.
[more]

Nightmare's Fairy Tale
A Young Refugee's Home Fronts, 1938–1948
Gerd Korman
University of Wisconsin Press, 2007

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.

[more]

Not the Germans Alone
A Son's Search for the Truth of Vichy
Isaac Levendel
Northwestern University Press, 2000
Winner of the Prix Franco-Européen

On the eve of D-Day, Isaac Levendel's mother left her hiding place on a farm in southern France and never returned. After 40 years of silence and torment, he returned to France in 1990 determined to find out what had happened. This is the story of how, with perseverance, luck, and official help, he gained access to secret wartime documents laying bare the details of French collaboration-and the truth about his mother's fate.
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An Ordinary Life?
The Journeys of Tonia Lechtman, 1918–1996
Anna Müller
Ohio University Press, 2023

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.

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Postal Indiscretions
The Correspondence of Tadeusz Borowski
Tadeusz Drewnowski
Northwestern University Press, 2007
In a brief life deeply and traumatically disrupted by two years in concentration camps as a political prisoner, Tadeusz Borowski (1922–1951) was tragically destined to become one of the most eloquent witnesses to the Holocaust in Poland. His recollections and stories, the most famous of which is This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, document in stark historical, literary, and personal terms the experience of the camps and its cost to humanity.  ​

This correspondence in this volume expands on the insights of Borowski’s published work and extends to the less-documented aftermath of the Holocaust in postwar Poland and East Germany. The volume opens with Borowski’s letter to his mother from Pawiak Prison the day after his arrest and closes with an unsigned telegram informing his parents of his suicide. The letters to and from family members, friends, and literary figures offer an indispensable picture of the world in the wake of the Nazis—and of the indelible stain that experience left upon the literature, politics, and life of Eastern Europe, in particular upon one gifted and doomed writer.
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Primo Levi
An Identikit
Marco Belpoliti
Seagull Books, 2022
Drawing on twenty years of research, this is the definitive biography of Primo Levi.

Over the last seventy years, Primo Levi (1919–87) has been recognized as the foremost literary witness of the extermination of the European Jews. In Primo Levi: An Identikit, a product of twenty years of research, Marco Belpoliti explores Levi’s tormented life, his trajectory as a writer and intellectual, and, above all, his multifaceted and complex oeuvre.
 
Organized in a mosaic format, this volume devotes a different chapter to each of Levi’s books. In addition to tracing the history of each book’s composition, publication, and literary influences, Belpoliti explores their contents across the many worlds of Primo Levi: from chemistry to anthropology, biology to ethology, space flights to linguistics. If This Is a Man, his initially rejected masterpiece, is also reread with a fresh perspective. We learn of dreams, animals, and travel; of literary writing, comedy, and tragedy; of shame, memory, and the relationship with other writers such as Franz Kafka and Georges Perec, Jean Améry and Varlam Shalamov. Fundamental themes such as Judaism, the camp, and testimony innervate the book, which is complemented by photographs and letters found by the author in hitherto unexplored archives.
 
This will be the definitive book on Primo Levi, a treasure trove of stories and reflections that paint a rich, nuanced composite portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most unique and urgent voices.
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Primo Levi and the Politics of Survival
Frederic D. Homer
University of Missouri Press, 2001

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.

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Prisoner of Her Past
A Son's Memoir
Howard Reich
Northwestern University Press, 2011

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.

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Refuge Denied
The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust
Sarah A. Ogilvie and Scott Miller
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
In May of 1939 the Cuban government turned away the Hamburg-America Line’s MS St. Louis, which carried more than 900 hopeful Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany. The passengers subsequently sought safe haven in the United States, but were rejected once again, and the St. Louis had to embark on an uncertain return voyage to Europe. Finally, the St. Louis passengers found refuge in four western European countries, but only the 288 passengers sent to England evaded the Nazi grip that closed upon continental Europe a year later. Over the years, the fateful voyage of the St. Louis has come to symbolize U.S. indifference to the plight of European Jewry on the eve of World War II. 

Although the episode of the St. Louis is well known, the actual fates of the passengers, once they disembarked, slipped into historical obscurity. Prompted by a former passenger’s curiosity, Sarah Ogilvie and Scott Miller of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum set out in 1996 to discover what happened to each of the 937 passengers. Their investigation, spanning nine years and half the globe, took them to unexpected places and produced surprising results. Refuge Denied chronicles the unraveling of the mystery, from Los Angeles to Havana and from New York to Jerusalem. 

Some of the most memorable stories include the fate of a young toolmaker who survived initial selection at Auschwitz because his glasses had gone flying moments before and a Jewish child whose apprenticeship with a baker in wartime France later translated into the establishment of a successful business in the United States. Unfolding like a compelling detective thriller, Refuge Denied is a must-read for anyone interested in the Holocaust and its impact on the lives of ordinary people.
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Remembering the Holocaust
Michael E. Stevens
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1997
This moving documentary volume brings together fourteen interviews of Holocaust survivors who later settled in Wisconsin. With words and photographs they describe the richness of pre-war Jewish life in Europe; the advent of proscriptive laws, arrests, and deportation; the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi camps; and ultimately the liberation and postwar experiences of the survivors.
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Second Scroll
A.M. Klein
Northwestern University Press, 1985
Written soon after the founding of the state of Israel, The Second Scroll is A.M. Klein’s most innovative and visionary work. The five “books” of the novel are a modern testament of Jewish experience to which are appended “glosses” or commentaries in the form of drama, epistle, poetry, and psalm. The action centres on a young writer from Montreal, whose search for his legendary Uncle Melech becomes a journey of revelation through Italy, Morocco, and the Holy Land. Dissident and exile, reformer and scholar, Melech is a messianic figure who enacts the destiny of his people and embodies the spiritual yearnings of everyman.

The Second Scroll, Klein’s only novel, combines the lyric genius of his poetic works with compelling reportage to create one of the most eloquent and original works in Canadian fiction.
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Sociology Confronts the Holocaust
Memories and Identities in Jewish Diasporas
Judith M. Gerson and Diane L. Wolf, eds.
Duke University Press, 2007
This volume expands the intellectual exchange between researchers working on the Holocaust and post-Holocaust life and North American sociologists working on collective memory, diaspora, transnationalism, and immigration. The collection is comprised of two types of essays: primary research examining the Shoah and its aftermath using the analytic tools prominent in recent sociological scholarship, and commentaries on how that research contributes to ongoing inquiries in sociology and related fields.

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

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Surviving in Silence
A Deaf Boy in the Holocaust, The Harry I. Dunai Story
Eleanor C. Dunai
Gallaudet University Press, 2002

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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They Were Just People
Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust
Bill Tammeus & Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn
University of Missouri Press, 2009
Hitler’s attempt to murder all of Europe’s Jews almost succeeded. One reason it fell short of its nefarious goal was the work of brave non-Jews who sheltered their fellow citizens. In most countries under German control, those who rescued Jews risked imprisonment and death. In Poland, home to more Jews than any other country at the start of World War II and location of six German-built death camps, the punishment was immediate execution.
            This book tells the stories of Polish Holocaust survivors and their rescuers. The authors traveled extensively in the United States and Poland to interview some of the few remaining participants before their generation is gone. Tammeus and Cukierkorn unfold many stories that have never before been made public: gripping narratives of Jews who survived against all odds and courageous non-Jews who risked their own lives to provide shelter.
            These are harrowing accounts of survival and bravery. Maria Devinki lived for more than two years under the floors of barns. Felix Zandman sought refuge from Anna Puchalska for a night, but she pledged to hide him for the whole war if necessary—and eventually hid several Jews for seventeen months in a pit dug beneath her house. And when teenage brothers Zygie and Sol Allweiss hid behind hay bales in the Dudzik family’s barn one day when the Germans came, they were alarmed to learn the soldiers weren’t there searching for Jews, but to seize hay. But Zofia Dudzik successfully distracted them, and she and her husband insisted the boys stay despite the danger to their own family.
            Through some twenty stories like these, Tammeus and Cukierkorn show that even in an atmosphere of unimaginable malevolence, individuals can decide to act in civilized ways. Some rescuers had antisemitic feelings but acted because they knew and liked individual Jews. In many cases, the rescuers were simply helping friends or business associates. The accounts include the perspectives of men and women, city and rural residents, clergy and laypersons—even children who witnessed their parents’ efforts.
            These stories show that assistance from non-Jews was crucial, but also that Jews needed ingenuity, sometimes money, and most often what some survivors called simple good luck. Sixty years later, they invite each of us to ask what we might do today if we were at risk—or were asked to risk our lives to save others.
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Vendulka
Flight to Freedom
Ondrej Kundra
Karolinum Press, 2021
So many lives were cut short by the Holocaust, many with no trace to leave behind for future generations to remember. Vendulka tells the story of a single scrap of remembrance—a candid photograph taken in the midst of this unspeakable tragedy—and that artifact’s amazing aftermath.

Famed Czech photographer Jan Lukas snapped an offhand portrait of twelve-year-old Vendulka Vogl in March 1943. A friend of the Vogls, Lukas was saying goodbye to the family, who were soon to leave Prague for a concentration camp. The photograph almost didn’t see the light of day—Lukas knew that if the Nazis found it on him, he could wind up in the camps as well—but the image was eventually developed and came to symbolize the Holocaust and humanize its victims. Seventy years after this famous picture was taken, investigative journalist Ondřej Kundra discovered that, despite all odds, Vendulka Vogl had survived the camps of Terezín, Auschwitz, and Christianstadt, and was in fact still alive and living in the United States. Kundra persuaded her to tell the remarkable story surrounding the photograph: her survival, her later decision to flee the Communist regime for America, and how she later reconnected with Jan Lukas, maintaining a lifelong friendship.

Vogl’s thrillingly moving story, Kundra’s sharp and engaging writing, and Lukas’s striking photography all combine to make Vendulka an inspiring investigation into the horrors of totalitarianism and the redemptive beauty of friendship.
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Waiting for Hope
Jewish Displaced Persons in Post-World War II Germany
Angelika Konigseder
Northwestern University Press, 2001
After the defeat of Germany in World War II, more than a hundred thousand Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were transported to camps maintained by the allies for displaced persons (DPs). In this new history, historians Angelika Königseder and Juliane Wetzel offer a social and cultural history of the post-WWII displaced persons camps.

Starting with the discovery of death camps by Allied forces, Königseder and Wetzel describe the inadequate preparations made for the survivors. The soldiers were ill equipped to deal with the physical wreckage and mental anguish of their charges, but American rabbis soon arrived to perform invaluable work helping the survivors cope. The historians also devote attention to autonomous Jewish life in and near the camps: theater groups and orchestras prospered, schools were founded, a tuberculosis hospital and clinic for DPs was established, and underground organizations handled illegal immigration to Israel and trained soldiers to fight in Palestine.

Drawing on original documents and the work of other historians, Waiting for Hope sheds light on a largely unknown period in postwar Jewish history and shows that the suffering of the survivors did not end with the war.
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William & Rosalie
A Holocaust Testimony
William Schiff
University of North Texas Press, 2007