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Jews, Germans, and Allies

Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany

Atina Grossmann
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Jews, Germans, and Allies
    Book Description:

    In the immediate aftermath of World War II, more than a quarter million Jewish survivors of the Holocaust lived among their defeated persecutors in the chaotic society of Allied-occupied Germany.Jews, Germans, and Alliesdraws upon the wealth of diary and memoir literature by the people who lived through postwar reconstruction to trace the conflicting ways Jews and Germans defined their own victimization and survival, comprehended the trauma of war and genocide, and struggled to rebuild their lives.

    In gripping and unforgettable detail, Atina Grossmann describes Berlin in the days following Germany's surrender--the mass rape of German women by the Red Army, the liberated slave laborers and homecoming soldiers, returning political exiles, Jews emerging from hiding, and ethnic German refugees fleeing the East. She chronicles the hunger, disease, and homelessness, the fraternization with Allied occupiers, and the complexities of navigating a world where the commonplace mingled with the horrific. Grossmann untangles the stories of Jewish survivors inside and outside the displaced-persons camps of the American zone as they built families and reconstructed identities while awaiting emigration to Palestine or the United States. She examines how Germans and Jews interacted and competed for Allied favor, benefits, and victim status, and how they sought to restore normality--in work, in their relationships, and in their everyday encounters.

    Jews, Germans, and Alliesshows how Jews were integral participants in postwar Germany and bridges the divide that still exists today between German history and Jewish studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3274-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface: Where Is Feldafing?
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. INTRODUCTION Entangled Histories and Close Encounters
    (pp. 1-13)

    As we rewrite the history of the post-1945 years in the aftermath of the political upheavals of 1989, we are only now rediscovering what was amply obvious to contemporaries: that occupied Germany in the immediate postwar period was the unlikely, unloved, and reluctant host to hundreds of thousands of its former victims, housed both inside and outside refugee camps mainly in the American zone and in the American sector of Berlin. A significant number of the millions of people uprooted by war and persecution who remained on western Allied territory as “unrepatriable” displaced persons (DPs) were Jewish survivors of Nazi...

    (pp. 15-46)

    In April 1945, after almost six years of war, the Allied armies had battled their way through German territory. Many German towns and cities capitulated quickly, but no victory was as important and hard won, both symbolically and logistically, as the Soviet capture of Berlin. By April 21, a gruesome, costly battle on the Seelow Heights had brought the Soviets up to the city limits. The Nazi propaganda machine raged on, exhorting Berliners, “Our walls are cracking, but not our hearts.” Contemporary reports estimated, however, that some ten thousand residents committed suicide as the Soviets entered, raping, looting, distributing bread,...

    (pp. 48-86)

    “Enjoy the war, because the peace will be terrible,” the mordant Berlin wags had warned even as the Red Army drew nearer and the bombings and casualties, both civilian and military, mounted. Allies and liberated victims of the Nazis may have approached the “whining” of the vanquished with jaundiced skepticism, but for many Germans the uneasy peace that relatively quickly emerged was haunted by the chaos, fear, and violence produced, not by the regime that had catapulted them into war, but its defeat. Both thatZusammenbruch(collapse) and the moves toward reconstruction that would bring “after a fashion, peace” were...

  9. CHAPTER THREE “The survivors were few and the dead were many”: JEWS IN OCCUPIED BERLIN
    (pp. 88-129)

    No sooner had the Soviets battled their way into the bombed-out capital than Jews began to surface. By the summer of 1945, the Allies counted between 6,000 and 7,000 Jews as residents of Berlin, a surprising and complicated presence in the immediate postwar period. Jews had endured in precarious niches. They had survived “underground,” as “illegals” or “submarines” (U-Boote), with false papers, hidden in factory lofts, apartments, and the shacks of Berlin’s many garden plots (Schrebergärten), on the grounds of the Weissensee Jewish cemetery, and both officially and secretly in the strange, ambiguous world of the Jewish Hospital right under...

    (pp. 131-182)

    Evoking the constant stream of refugees trying to enter the city,Lifephotographer Margaret Bourke-White named a chapter in her sarcastically titledDear Fatherland, Rest Quietly,“Berlin: A River of Wanderers.”³ In the spring and summer of 1945, all of war-torn Europe became such a moving stream of humanity. Around 20 million people clogged the roads, straggling from east to west and west to east. Millions, including ethnic Germans who had fled the Red Army or been expelled from Eastern Europe, as well as former soldiers and prisoners of war, forced laborers, and survivors of death and work camps, were...

    (pp. 184-235)

    In 1946, occupied Germany, far from beingjudenrein, counted a Jewish birthrate estimated to be “higher than that of any other country or any other population” in the world.⁴ Only a year after liberation, at the same time that Germans bemoaned the high incidence of suicides, infant and child mortality, and abortion, and German women were desperately seeking to keep alive the children they already had, Jewish DPs were marrying and producing babies in record numbers. “In the midst of the depressed desert life” of the DP camps (the recurring exodus metaphors were not accidental), one male survivor wrote in...

    (pp. 237-268)

    By late 1947, the chaos and flux—but also the sense of openness about Germany’s future—that marked the immediate postwar period was over. Political conditions and everyday life were changing for everyone: defeated Germans, American victors, and both German and DP Jewish survivors. U.S. Military Government’s turn away from policies of denazification, justice, and restitution—and toward cooperation with the former enemy, in the service of intensifying Cold War conflicts, the push for German economic reconstruction, and greater political autonomy—became ever more pronounced. General Lucius Clay’s April 1947 directive to remove from Military Government service anyone who had...

  13. Abbreviations in Notes
    (pp. 269-270)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 271-358)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 359-368)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 369-372)
  17. Index
    (pp. 373-393)