As If It Were Life: A WWII Diary from the Theresienstadt Ghetto

Overview

Philipp Manes was an average, well-to-do middle-class Berlin merchant, who considered himself first and foremost a German, and then a Jew. In 1942 he was deported to Theresienstadt, together with his wife Gertud. Theresienstadt, initially intended for the Jews of Czechoslovakia, later became the "showpiece"ghetto of the Third Reich to show the world that the Jews were being treated humanely. It was controlled by the SS but run by a council of Jewish elders, and presented to the Red Cross as an idyllic utopia with...

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As If It Were Life: A WWII Diary from the Theresienstadt Ghetto

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Overview

Philipp Manes was an average, well-to-do middle-class Berlin merchant, who considered himself first and foremost a German, and then a Jew. In 1942 he was deported to Theresienstadt, together with his wife Gertud. Theresienstadt, initially intended for the Jews of Czechoslovakia, later became the "showpiece"ghetto of the Third Reich to show the world that the Jews were being treated humanely. It was controlled by the SS but run by a council of Jewish elders, and presented to the Red Cross as an idyllic utopia with shops, cafes, concerts and theatre groups. Manes himself organized over 500 evening lectures. But in reality, Theresienstadt was a holding post for Jews being shipped to certain death, chiefly in Treblinka and Auschwitz. Manes wrote his first-hand account in the ghetto before his deportation to Auschwitz, where he and his wife were killed.
Manes' account is filled with careful and fascinating details of everyday life in those years, and delivers an accurate portrait of the ghetto, its inmates and practices, offering a new understanding of one of the most painful periods in the history of mankind.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The eyewitness account of Philipp Manes offers a unique insight into the life of the Jewish ghetto of Theresienstadt and the cultural activities that flourished there and helped people to endure a cruel and ultimately fatal situation."—Prof Raphael Gross, Director, Jewish Museum and Fritz Bauer Institut Frankfurt and Leo Baeck Institute, London

"The publication of this excellent translation of Philipp Manes’s Theresienstadt Chronicle makes accessible a hugely important document of the Holocaust. Manes’s prose is eloquent and elegiac, and his attention to detail careful. This unique account is essential reading for anyone interested in comprehending how the victims of the Third Reich sought to negotiate life in one of its least well-understood institutions of persecution."—Prof Donald Bloxham, Edinburgh University

"The murder of European Jewry had many facets.  Terezin in Bohemia was the de luxe showcase (transit)camp scheduled to hoodwink the Red Cross and similar organizations. This diary by an elderly German Jew who had a leading position there is one of the most authentic documents helping to understand the sho'ah."—Walter Laqueur, author of The Terrible Secret

"The publication of Philipp Manes’ diary is an extraordinary event and its significance in historical and literary terms can hardly be overstated. . . . It is above all the courageous directness and freshness of this record, its spirit never faltering in the face of misery, which affects the contemporary reader most strongly. . . In the midst of incessant suffering, art and theatre acquire an ability to transcend, thanks solely to the power of words. This power makes itself felt in Philipp Manes’ diary, which is arguably the most important reason why this book deserves to be read today." —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230613287
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/24/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 388,804
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Philipp Manes (1875-1944) was a Berlin furrier before he and his wife were stripped of their possessions and transported to Theresienstadt in 1942. Two years later, Manes and his wife were transported to Auschwitz, where they were killed in October of 1944.

Klaus Leist (editor) is an economist and former international business executive who worked in Britain, Belgium, the United States and Germany. He is the author of two articles about Philipp Manes and the chronicle one in the Journal of Holocaust Education and the other in Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente. He lives in London with his wife.

Ben Barkow (editor) is the director of the Wiener Library, London and the author of Alfred Wiener and the Making of the Holocaust Library, editor of Testaments of the Holocaust, series 1 - 3 and co-editor of Novemberpogrom 1938: Die Augenzeugenberichte Der Wiener Library, London (with Raphael Gross and Michael Lenarz. He lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction
• Prologue
• Book 1: 1942
• Book 2: 1943
• Book 3: 1944 January-July
• Epilogue

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