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Look Inside Holocaust Survivors in Postwar Germany, 1945–1957

Holocaust Survivors in Postwar Germany, 1945–1957


  • Date Published: July 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107670198

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About the Authors
  • Stranded in Germany after the Second World War, 300,000 Holocaust survivors began to rebuild their lives while awaiting emigration. Brought together by their shared persecution, Jewish displaced persons forged a vibrant community, redefining Jewish identity after Auschwitz. Asserting their dignity as Jews, they practised Jewish rituals, created new families, embraced Zionism, agitated against British policies in Palestine, and tried to force Germans to acknowledge responsibility for wartime crimes. In Holocaust Survivors in Postwar Germany, Margarete Myers Feinstein uses survivor memoirs and interviews, allowing the reader to 'hear' the survivors' voices, focusing on the personal aspects of the transition to normalcy. Unlike previous political histories, this study emphasizes Jewish identity and cultural life after the war.

    • Use of memoirs and interviews (many from the Shoah Visual History Foundation) allows survivors' voices to come through
    • Emphasis on how survivors reworked their past through theatrical performances and memorial ceremonies in order to identify themselves with the partisans and ghetto resistance fighters
    • Explores the role of religion in postwar Jewish identity
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Margarete Myers Feinstein's Holocaust Survivors in Postwar Germany is a wonderful book. Meticulously researched and well written it tells the compelling story of the immediate post-liberation years in which Holocaust survivors returned to life - to Jewish life in social, political, religious, cultural and above all personal terms. … Anyone reading Feinstein's work will understand that the immediate postwar years were pivotal and Feinstein offers us unique access to that time and place.' Michael Berenbaum, American Jewish University

    'This is a compelling account of everyday life among the Holocaust survivors. Margarete Myers Feinstein presents a rich array of personal narratives and archival sources, and thus provides the Jewish Displaced Persons in postwar Germany with a powerful posthumous voice.' Michael Brenner, University of Munich

    'The story of the victims of the Holocaust did not end with liberation. Margarete Myers Feinstein demonstrates how victims became survivors and how survivors took responsibility for their own lives after the tragedy that had befallen them. Their decisions in memorializing the past, living in the present, and preparing for the future played a crucial role in their psychological and physical rehabilitation. This book will serve as an illuminating epilogue to the history of the Holocaust and the first chapter in a new history of the Jews after the catastrophe.' Jay Howard Geller, University of Tulsa

    'Margarete Myers Feinstein has written a vivid new chapter in the history of the German Jews and of Jews in Germany. It is the post-Holocaust history of a third of a million Jewish survivors, whose presence on the soil of defeated Germany was heavy with significance both for the traumatized Jews and the morally bankrupt Nazis. Feinstein reconstructs a Jewish rebirth and self-empowerment indiscernible in a previous scholarship that cast the Jewish DPs as pawns in the political strategies of outsiders to their ranks. Her book is an impressive tribute to human beings' powers of collective cultural and social recovery from murderous assault. It demonstrates, too, the enormous strength of Judaism and Jewish identity.' William Hagen, University of California at Davis

    'This book succeeds in documenting the wide variety of ways in which Jewish DPs employed Jewish traditions to assign new meaning to their lives after the Holocaust … the book offers a compelling 'history of everyday life' in the DP camps. The book will represent an important point of reference for any further study of Jewish life in post-Holocaust Germany.' The Journal of Central European History

    'A consummate history of everyday life, this study affords remarkably detailed insight into a crucial moment of transition into a postwar world.' German History

    '… Myers Feinstein's book makes a valuable contribution to the field.' East European Jewish Affairs

    'This is a well written and carefully constructed analysis that has much to recommend it in providing an understanding of how the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust rebuilt their lives and their sense of identity in the postwar world.' European History Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107670198
    • length: 342 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Bamidbar: in the wilderness
    2. The living and the dead
    3. The new Jewish man and woman
    4. Guarantors of the future: DP children
    5. Performing identity and building community
    6. Out of the wilderness

  • Author

    Margarete Myers Feinstein, University of California, Los Angeles
    Margarete Myers Feinstein is Senior Research Scholar at The Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College. Interested in questions of identity and legacies of the Nazi regime, her research has focused on postwar German national identity and Jewish displaced persons. She is the author of State Symbols: The Quest for Legitimacy in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, 1949–1959 as well as numerous articles.

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