Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation

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U of Nebraska Press, 1996 - History - 663 pages
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"Judenrat confirms one conclusion: the Nazis created a hell on earth where the best could falter and the worst could show a flash of decency. Suddenly, one realizes what happens to people in a world of absolute evil. Mr. Trunk again teaches us that we must distinguish between victims and criminals, as well as between criminal victims and criminals. The greatest virtue of this important book based upon half a decade of research and sound scholarship is that it is not an objective study. Objectivity would be indecent here."-[London] Times Literary Supplement. "This is the first full-length account of the Judenrat. . . . [It is] an exhaustive study of a complex subject, and Trunk's closely documented descriptions of the ghettos and how the Judenrat held them together are stark and unforgettable."-Library Journal. During World War II, more than five million Jews lived under Nazi rule in Eastern Europe. In occupied Poland, the Baltic countries, Byelorussia, and Ukraine, they were stripped of property and "resettled" in ghettos. The German authorities established in each ghetto a Jewish Council, or Judenrat, to maintain minimal living standards. The Judenrat was required to carry out Nazi directives against other Jews, to supply forced labor, and eventually to cooperate in the Final Solution. Did the Jewish leaders of the ghettos, who were also victims, assist their murderers? If cooperation with the Nazi oppressors was morally defensible during the first stage in organizing the ghettos, what about later, when deportations to death camps began? Trunk analyzes situations where the Councils and ghetto police were forced to send their own communities to death. Some Council members chosesuicide rather than supply lists to the Nazis; others used delaying tactics. Some handed over the lists. Some joined their families in the gas chamber. In assessing guilt and innocence, Trunk never allows the reader to forget that the impossible choices facing the Jewish leaders were created by the Nazis. The works of Isaiah Trunk, a historian of Polish Jewry, include Jewish Responses to Nazi Persecution. Steven T. Katz is a professor of Jewish history at Cornell University. He is the author of the three-volume work, The Holocaust in Historical Context.
 

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Book review for JUDENRAT, The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation. By Isaiah Trunk; 663 pages (1972).
Profound and comprehensive magnum opus examining an aspect of the Shoah
often misunderstood, some would say understudied.
This brutal invention of oppressive torture was the Nazi capstone of their destruction of the Jewish people. Isolation; Seizure of Jewish property; Starvation; Slavery; Humiliation; Aktions; Ultimately “Resettlement”…and to be managed / set in motion by the Jews themselves.
Trunk is excruciatingly and painfully detailed in this exhaustive account of the Nazi established Judenrats. He deconstructs an intricately complex subject, examines the roles of the engineers and executioners as well as the compunctious decisions forced upon a doomed, deserted and impotent leadership structure; established throughout Eastern Europe "to serve only one purpose -- execute Nazi orders regarding the Jewish population."
Trunk is professional, scholarly and near encyclopedic in his approach, leaving the reader with an abundance of continued research options. A key theme throughout this work is the reiteration that the Nazi’s were always in control, offering an exculpatory blanket to some previously branded collaborators. A very important study for those interested in a deep understanding of the structure behind the Holocaust Ghettos.
Written by Edward M. Janes, 2016
 

Contents

INTRODUCTION TO THE BISON BOOKS EDITION
ix
PREFACE
xxi
ABBREVIATIONS xxx1n
xxxiii
THE OFFICIAL DECREES ESTABLISHING THE JEWISH COUNCILS
1
THE EMERGENCE OF THE JEWISH COUNCILS AND THEIR COMPOSITION
14
THE CENTRAL JEWISH COUNCILS
36
THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE JEWISH COUNCILS
43
THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE JEWS AND THE ACTIVITIES
61
THE FINANCES OF THE JEWISH COUNCILS
230
THE FLUCTUATION IN THE COMPOSITION OF THE COUNCILS
317
THE COUNCILS AND THE JEWISH SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
332
THE PERSONNEL OF THE JEWISH COUNCILS
352
MUTUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE JEWISH COUNCILS AND THE DIVERSE
368
THE STRATEGY AND TACTICS OF THE COUNCILS TOWARD THE GERMAN
388
THE ATTITUDE OF THE COUNCILS TOWARD PHYSICAL RESISTANCE
451
THE GHETTO POLICE
475

PUBLIC WELFARE
115
MEDICAL AID 43
143
ADMINISTRATIVE JUDICIAL AND POLICE DUTIES
172
RELIGION EDUCATION AND OTHER CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
186
1g OPPOSITION TO THE JEWISH COUNCILS AND THE GHETTO POLICE
528
POSTWAR TRIALS OF COUNCILMEN AND GHETTO POLICE
548
CONCLUSIONS
577
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

The works of Isaiah Trunk, a historian of Polish Jewry, include Jewish Responses to Nazi Persecution. Steven T. Katz is a professor of Jewish history at Cornell University. He is the author of the three-volume work, The Holocaust in Historical Context.

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