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Book Title: The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945|
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The author of the book: Lucy S. Dawidowicz
Date of issue: March 1st 1986
ISBN 13: 9780553345322
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I have focused on Dawidowicz's penetrating perspectives on the reaction and response of German Jews to Hitler's persecution. So far, I have read only through the mid-1930s, to match where I am in writing a first draft of the sequel to A Flood of Evil.
Selected notes ...
... (after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935) ... Jews were outside the protection of the state … at the mercy of the secret police, without access to law or courts … disenfranchised … SS authority enforced laws against Jews
... Failing to prevent the Nazi's rise to power … the organized Jewish community … evolved a strategy similar to that which had served Jews in the past: hold on, bargain and negotiate
... Some Jews saw in National Socialism they admonition of God to return to traditional Judaism … to battle the internal decay exemplified by mixed marriages conversions and birth control … only teshuva - repentance and religious return - adherence to Torah ... can restore the Jews ... It is because we did not display our Jewishness with pride that we must share the blame for the degradation of Jewry
... Jewish theatrical troupes, orchestras, and choirs where are organized … operas, plays, concerts, lectures, cabaret performances, film showings, art exhibits where produced and performed exclusively for Jewish audiences … the walls of an invisible ghetto were beginning to rise around the German Jews
... the intrusion of the Gestapo in the Jewish community became ever more oppressive … listening and watching at every Jewish public gathering … Jewish organizations had to conduct business in the presence of Gestapo agents … all documents were subject to Gestapo scrutiny
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Read information about the authorLucy Schildkret Dawidowicz (June 16, 1915 – December 5, 1990), was an American historian and an author of books on modern Jewish history, in particular books on the Holocaust.
Dawidowicz was born in New York City as Lucy Bagleizer. Her parents, Max and Victoria (née Ofnaem) Schildkret were secular-minded Jews with little interest in religion. Dawidowicz did not attend a service at a synagogue until 1938.
Dawidowicz's first interests were poetry and literature. She attended Hunter College from 1932 to 1936 and obtained a B.A. in English. She went on to study for a M.A. at Columbia University, but abandoned her studies because of concerns over events in Europe. At the encouragement of her mentor, the historian Jacob Shatzky, Dawidowicz decided to focus on history, especially Jewish history. Dawidowicz made the decision to learn Yiddish and at Shatzky's urging, in 1938 she travelled to Wilno, Poland (modern Vilnius, Lithuania) to work at the Yiddish Scientific Institute (known by its Yiddish acronym as the YIVO).
Dawidowicz lived in Wilno until August 1939 when she returned to the United States. During her time at the YIVO, she became close to three of the leading scholars there, namely Zelig Kalmanovich, Max Weinreich and Zalmen Reisen. Only Weinreich survived the Holocaust and that only because he went to New York to establish a branch of the YIVO there before World War II. In particular, Dawidowicz was very close to Kalmanovich and his family, whom she described as being her real parents. During her time in Poland, she encountered anti-Semitism from the local Gentile population and her later writings on Gentile-Jewish relations in Poland were very much coloured by her memories of the time in Wilno. Dawidowicz was well known for her view that the vast majority of the Roman Catholic population in Poland was virulently anti-Semitic before and during World War II. Other historians, such as Norman Davies, have objected to the factual validity of this portrayal of Gentile-Jewish relations.
From 1940 until 1946, Dawidowicz worked as a researcher at the New York office of the YIVO. During the war, she was aware that something horrible was happening to the Jewish people of Europe, though it was not until after the war that she finally became aware of the full extent of the Holocaust.
In 1946, Dawidowicz traveled to Germany where she worked as an aid worker for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in the various Displaced Persons (DP) camps. During this period, she involved herself in the search for various looted YIVO books in Frankfurt. Only after the war, did she realize the full extent of the Jewish catastrophe, when she became involved with providing aid for Holocaust survivors. By her own admission, she was full of sorrow over the fate of European Jews, hatred for the Germans and pride in the tenacity of Holocaust survivors. In particular, she was filled with sadness as she realized that the world of Eastern European Jewry that she had encountered and lived among in Poland before the war had been destroyed forever, and all that was left of it were the emaciated survivors she was working with and her own memories. Moreover, Dawidowicz found it very poignant that she had left that world in August 1939; a month before the process of destruction had begun.
In 1947, she returned to the U.S. and on January 3, 1948, she married a Polish Jew named Szymon Dawidowicz. Upon her return to the U.S. she worked as a researcher for the novelist John Hersey's book The Wall, a dramatization of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. From 1948 until 1960, Dawidowicz worked as a historical researcher for the American Jewish Committee. During the same period, Dawidowicz wrote frequently for the Commentary, the New York Times and the New York Times Book Review. An enthusiastic New York Mets fan, Dawidowicz lived the rest of her life in New York. In 1985, she founded the Fund for the Translation of Jewish Literature from Yiddis
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