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Holocaust Survivors

Holocaust Survivors: Resettlement, Memories, Identities

Dalia Ofer
Françoise S. Ouzan
Judy Tydor Baumel-Schwartz
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    Holocaust Survivors
    Book Description:

    Many books on Holocaust survivors deal with their lives in the Displaced Persons camps, with memory and remembrance, and with the nature of their testimonies. Representing scholars from different countries and different disciplines such as history, sociology, demography, psychology, anthropology, and literature, this collection explores the survivors' return to everyday life and how their experience of Nazi persecution and the Holocaust impacted their process of integration into various European countries, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and Israel. Thus, it offers a rich mix of perspectives, disciplines, and communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-248-1
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Preface
    (pp. x-xii)
    Dalia Ofer, Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz and Françoise S. Ouzan
  5. Introduction. Holocaust Survivors in their Countries of Resettlement: Time, Space, and Identities
    (pp. 1-9)
    Dalia Ofer, Françoise S. Ouzan and Judy Tydor Baumel-Schwartz

    The theme of this volume was initially chosen for an international workshop, one focused on the political, social, and cultural factors that influenced World War II survivors in their efforts to reconstruct their lives, whether in their countries of origin or in the main countries of resettlement in the aftermath of the war. This approach—comparative in nature—made it possible to examine not only the motivations for postwar migration, but also the specific steps the survivors took towards integration and the ways in which the populations of the various countries of resettlement perceived the newcomers as they strove to...

  6. 1 She’erit Hapletah: The Surviving Remnant: An Overview
    (pp. 10-15)
    Zeev Mankowitz

    When Nazi Germany finally surrendered to the Allies in May 1945, some six million European Jews had been put to death. An estimated three million survived, the majority of them in the Soviet Union, which remained out of the reach of the Nazis.

    Among the survivors—especially those from Eastern Europe—there was a clear predominance of young males. Women, children, the elderly, and the infirm—those who could not be profitably exploited by the Nazis—were conspicuous by their absence.

    What we seek to clarify, in brief, are the questions and challenges that confronted these survivors in the first...

  7. 2 The Identity of Women in the She’erit Hapletah: Personal and Gendered Identity as Determinants in Rehabilitation, Immigration, and Resettlement
    (pp. 16-45)
    Judy Tydor Baumel-Schwartz

    Eretz Yisrael. A land of milk and honey. The Jewish homeland. These were the thoughts which helped “camp sisters” Rivka Englard, Rivka Horowitz, and Pearl Mandelker survive the Holocaust. During their hardest days in Płaszów, Auschwitz, and finally Bergen-Belsen, these young former schoolmates from Poland buoyed each other’s spirits with the thought that after the war, they would make their way together to the Holy Land.

    Yet, out of the three, only Englard actually ended up immigrating to Palestine, having received one of the few precious legal certificates available to postwar European Jews. In spite of her love of Eretz...

  8. 3 Rebuilding Shattered Lives: Some Vignettes of Jewish Children’s Lives in Early Postwar Poland
    (pp. 46-87)
    Joanna B. Michlic

    In her early postwar letter to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC, JDC, or the Joint), Aliza Greens, a resident of Tel Aviv, expressed a compelling desire to adopt her only surviving relative from Poland, the daughter of her murdered brother. “This niece of mine is the only survivor of my family in Poland and I shall spare no effort in bringing her here to live with me.”¹

    In the letter, Aliza Greens also demonstrated a deep understanding of the situation of her young niece, who had survived the war by passing as a Christian Polish child. She was...

  9. 4 Issues in Religious and Educational Reform in the Jewish Communities of Western Europe after World War II
    (pp. 88-111)
    David Weinberg

    The issue of religious and educational reform was one of the most significant challenges that western European Jewish communities faced after 1945 in their efforts to recover from the devastating effects of the Holocaust. It first emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s when the Jews of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in particular increasingly turned their attention from physical relief to long-term reconstruction and growth. The war had not only led to the massive loss of Jewish life in these communities; it had also severely weakened their spiritual and intellectual foundations, thereby endangering their future survival. Old age...

  10. 5 The Post-Liberation French Administration and the Jews
    (pp. 112-126)
    Jean-Marc Dreyfus

    On 13 September 1944, more than two weeks after the liberation of Paris, the partners and associates of the small Paris bank, Cahin, wrote a letter to the Banque de France, the French central bank. In the letter, they asserted that the authority and the signatory power of the provisional administrator, Albert Bouvier—appointed in March 1941 by the general commissioner for Jewish affairs (Commissariat général aux questions juives) to liquidate or sell the bank—should be suspended.¹ France had been liberated, the Vichy regime had collapsed, and Marshal Pétain was being kept in a castle in Germany; therefore, the...

  11. 6 Mending the Body, Mending the Soul: Members of Youth Aliyah Take a Look at Themselves and at Others
    (pp. 127-164)
    Dalia Ofer

    This chapter will present a study of two groups of adolescents who immigrated to Palestine¹ prior to the establishment of Israel. The first group arrived in the 1930s; the second group in the years after the Second World War. They all came through the efforts of the organization known as Youth Aliyah. The focus of this chapter will be the relationship between the external and the internal transformations undergone by these youths upon their arrival in the new country. The external transformations, referred to astikkun ha-guf(literally, the “repair of the body”), included aspects such as dress and speech....

  12. 7 Holocaust Survivors on Kibbutzim: Resettling Unsettled Memories
    (pp. 165-183)
    Micha Balf

    The young survivor who wrote this poem, published in her school paper and distributed to members of the kibbutz, was not in the midst of resettlement, in spite of the title of this article. A narrow definition of the concept of resettlement might be understood to imply that a person is on a continuum of life and that the essence of the change is not upheaval, but simply geographical relocation. This chapter will focus on the reestablishment of Holocaust survivors’ lives in a personal and communal context.

    The story of an orphaned Holocaust survivor—perhaps one who has been living...

  13. 8 Holocaust Survivors in Israel: Time for an Initial Taking of Stock
    (pp. 184-206)
    Hannah Yablonka

    This chapter begins by defining the demographic characteristics and motivations of those Holocaust survivors who chose to immigrate to Israel. It then reviews the various stages of their absorption in Israel, which in those years was a society in the making. I present the integration of Holocaust survivors in Israel in the context of several constitutive events that had a crucial impact on attitudes toward them, such as the Eichmann trial. I also refer to the survivors’ role in the shaping and perpetuation of the memory of the Holocaust by presenting an edifying example of Holocaust remembrance in the southern...

  14. 9 Rooting the Rootless: The Absorption of Holocaust Survivors in Israeli Rural Settlements
    (pp. 207-232)
    Ada Schein

    From its outset, the Zionist Movement placed agriculture at the pinnacle of its scale of priorities and made it an inseparable part of the fulfillment of the ideal of establishing Jewish national control of the land. Zionism viewed agriculture as the best way of restoring the Jewish people to economic and social health, defining it as the preferred method for the creation of a permanent, stable, continuous, and broad-based Jewish presence in Palestine. Agriculture was even considered to be a convenient way of assuring the nation’s economic steadfastness under any conditions that might evolve, as well as the ability of...

  15. 10 New Roots for the Uprooted: Holocaust Survivors as Farmers in America
    (pp. 233-257)
    Françoise S. Ouzan

    During the 1930s and the war years, the mood of the American Congress—as well as public opinion towards refugees and the victims of the Holocaust—was apathetic. After the war, church leaders showed interest in the issue when they learned that eighty percent of the displaced persons in the DP camps were not Jews but European Christians fleeing communism. Meanwhile, the leaders of American Jewry had taken the lead in financing the Citizens Committee for Displaced Persons (CCDP), founded in 1946 and initiated by the American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Services (ACVAFS) and the National Committee for...

  16. 11 Attitudes of the Jewish Community in Buenos Aires towards Holocaust Survivors, 1945–49
    (pp. 258-273)
    Leonardo Senkman

    The regime of Juan Perón (1946–55), which reopened the gates of Argentina to European immigration according to his populist Five Year Plan for modernizing of the economy and society of the “New Argentina,” raised high expectations among potential Italian and Spanish immigrants. In the five years from 1947 to 1951, about 600,000 immigrants settled permanently in Argentina, compared to nearly 127,000 in the fourteen-year period between 1933 and 1946.

    But the New Argentina, whose postwar economy was marked by years of growth, development, and a demand for manpower to be filled by European immigrants, discriminated against the entrance of...

  17. 12 Why We Chose Australia
    (pp. 274-292)
    Sharon Kangisser Cohen

    The influx of Holocaust survivors more than doubled the size of Australian Jewry. Between 1945 and 1961, approximately 27,000 Holocaust survivors migrated to Australia, thus transforming the community.¹ Bill Rubinstein remarks that “it was this wave of immigrants, even more than the earlier Jewish refugees, which altered the face of the Jewish community in Australia.”² On arrival, Holocaust survivors found a community that worked to achieve “a non-distinctiveness with its essentially lukewarm Jewish religiosity as its central mode of Jewish identity, a mode tailor-made to speed up Jewish assimilation.”³ However, the survivors brought with them the cultures and traditions of...

  18. 13 Jewish Shoah Survivors: Neediness Assessment and Resource Allocation
    (pp. 293-314)
    Sergio DellaPergola

    More than sixty years after the end of World War II, issues of dormant bank accounts, slave labor, confiscated property, looted art, and unpaid insurance policies still play an important role in public discourse about the direct consequences and long-term implications of the Shoah.¹ Following several years of public debate and negotiations, at the beginning of the twenty-first century a new program of allocation and distribution of resources to Shoah victims and other eligible individuals and organizations was initiated within a framework of Swiss bank claims. This legal procedure generated a need to develop adequate criteria for just and efficient...

  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 315-332)
  20. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 333-337)
  21. Index
    (pp. 338-346)