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The Road to September 1939
Polish Jews, Zionists, and the Yishuv on the Eve of World War II
Jehuda Reinharz, Yaacov Shavit

The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry

2018 • 432 pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
Jewish History / Eastern Europe History / History - 20th Century

$50.00 Hardcover, 978-1-5126-0153-4

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-5126-0154-1

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“This valuable book is a corrective to simplistic views of strategies of the Zionist leaders of European Jewry in general just before the Holocaust. . . . Highly recommended.”


How the Zionist movement and the Yishuv actively sought to help Polish and other European Jews in the 1930s

In European and Holocaust historiography, it is generally believed that neither the Zionist movement nor the Yishuv, acting primarily out of self-interest, energetically attempted to help European Jews escape the Nazi threat.

Drawing on the memoirs, letters, and institutional reports of Chaim Weizmann, Zeev Jabotinsky, David Ben-Gurion, and many others, this volume sheds new light on a troubled period in Jewish history. Reinharz and Shavit trace Jewish responses to developments in Eastern and Central Europe to show that—contrary to recent scholarship and popular belief—Zionists in the Yishuv worked tirelessly on the international stage on behalf of their coreligionists in Europe.

Focusing particularly on Poland, while explicating conditions in Germany and Czechoslovakia as well, the authors examine the complicated political issues that arose not just among Jews themselves, but also within national governments in Britain, Europe, and America. Piercing to the heart of conversations about how or whether to save Jews in an increasingly hostile Europe, this volume provides a nuanced and thoughtful assessment of what could and could not be achieved in the years just prior to World War II and the Holocaust.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Of great interest.”

“This well-researched and pathbreaking book challenges the widely held view that the Zionist movement effectively failed to respond to the worsening situation of European Jewry in the years between 1933 and 1939. Based on a detailed analysis of the situation of the Jews of Poland, it provides a clear account of what the different Zionist leaders attempted to do and why their efforts were doomed to failure. It is essential reading for all interested in the Jewish response to the rise of Nazism and the tragic fate of European Jewry.”—Antony Polonsky, emeritus professor of Holocaust studies, Brandeis University and chief historian, Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw

“This remarkable history focuses on Polish Jewry on the eve of catastrophe against the backdrop of the international arena, including the Yishuv and the Zionist movement worldwide. Its authors muster an outstanding wealth of details and of insights at all levels of their narration. The Road to September 1939 is a major achievement.”—Saul Friedländer, professor emeritus, UCLA, and author of Nazi Germany and the Jews

“An incredibly important book documenting how helpless European Jews and the Jewish community in Palestine were on the eve of September 1939. The reader may be tempted to speculate how differently history might have turned out had a Jewish state existed in the 1930s that could have offered a safe haven to those intent on fleeing the gathering storm in Europe. The phrase ‘never again’ assumes a deeper meaning: the difference Jewish sovereignty could have made.”—Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and author of Herzl’s Vision: Theodor Herzl and the Foundations of the Jewish State

JEHUDA REINHARZ is Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History and director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry at Brandeis University. He is the president of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation. YAACOV SHAVIT is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:31 -0500