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A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz
History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival
Tuvia Friling; Haim Watzman, trans.

The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies

2014 • 344 pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Jewish Studies / Holocaust Studies / Jewish History

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-61168-587-9
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-576-3

$39.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-577-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Cloth edition is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“Tuvia Friling writes well and with deep feeling . . . offers us an all-embracing and fair presentation of some of the painful pages of our history.”—Jerusalem Post Magazine

Intriguing biography of Eliezer Gruenbaum, the communist Jewish Kapo whose controversy-ridden story spans Europe and Israel

Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908–1948) was a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo while interned at Auschwitz. He was the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the most prominent secular leader of interwar Polish Jewry who later became the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee during the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the interior. In light of the father’s high placement in both Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the younger Gruenbaum and his suspicious death during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war add intrigue to a controversy that really centers on the question of what constitutes—and how do we evaluate—moral behavior in Auschwitz.

Gruenbaum—a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader—became a symbol exploited by opponents of the movements to which he was linked. Sorting through this Rashomon-like story within the cultural and political contexts in which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that rent the Jewish community in Europe and Israel from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements:

“An astonishingly excellent work of historical reconstruction and interpretation . . . [By] combining deep and creative research, conceptual sophistication, and deep humanity, [Friling] offers us what should become a classic, important, and enduring work of history.”—Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland

“Tuvia Friling expertly weaves together Jewish history, European history, and the history of Israel. . . A fascinating read.”—Richard Breitman, American University

TUVIA FRILING is a professor of modern Jewish history at the Ben Gurion Research Institute, Ben Gurion University of the Negev.