A Battlefield of Ideas: Nazi Concentration Camps and Their Polish Prisoners

Overview

Written by a concentration camp survivor, Battlefield of Ideas draws upon personal experience and historical sources largely unknown to American scholars to provide an in-depth examination of life inside the camps and the survival tactics of Polish prisoners. Debski offers a new "battlefield" model for studying the camps that emphasizes the prisoners' actions against Nazi power and stands as a powerful critique of older explanatory models--put forth by prominent scholars such as Hannah Arendt and Lawrence ...

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Overview

Written by a concentration camp survivor, Battlefield of Ideas draws upon personal experience and historical sources largely unknown to American scholars to provide an in-depth examination of life inside the camps and the survival tactics of Polish prisoners. Debski offers a new "battlefield" model for studying the camps that emphasizes the prisoners' actions against Nazi power and stands as a powerful critique of older explanatory models--put forth by prominent scholars such as Hannah Arendt and Lawrence Langer--that assume prisoners were unable to resist.

Reflecting the range of responses in the camps, up to and including resistance, Debski presents a typology of prisoners that represents a significant contribution to our understanding of the sociology of the camps. The book also includes detailed documentation on the structure of the camps and the daily routines of the prisoners' lives. A final chapter deals with the lives of the survivors after liberation, and the sometimes painful reintegration into society-and reintegration of their selves-that marked survivors ultimately as victors and not victims. Battlefield of Ideas is at once deeply personal and rigorously researched, a stirring testimony to the human instinct to persevere in the face of evil.

East European Monographs

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Editorial Reviews

Shofar

Written by a concentration camp survivor,Battlefield of Ideas draws upon personal experience and historical sources to provide an examination of life inside the camps and the survival tactics of Polish prisoners... Debski presents a typology of prisoners that contributes to our understanding of the sociology of the camps.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880334785
  • Publisher: East European Monographs
  • Publication date: 1/2/2002
  • Series: East European Monographs
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Poland, Tadeusz Debski was a prisoner of Nazi concentration camps from 1941 to 1945.

East European Monographs

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Table of Contents

Ch. I The Camps Interpreted 1
Definitions, Assumptions, Statements, Sources 1
The Camps: Their History and Purpose 14
The Organizational Structure of the Camps 23
The Categories of Prisoners 34
The Explanatory Models of the Camps 38
Old Models and A New Proposal 53
Survivors and Scholars 59
Ch. II A Typology of Prisoners 81
General Remarks 81
Men and Women 82
Flotsam and Jetsam; the Undecided 87
Those at the Bottom; the Muselmen 88
The Lonely Intellectuals 98
National, Religious and Ideological Groups 104
Ch. III Life in the Camps 123
The Painfulness of Camp Life 123
Intensity 126
Habituation 129
Dignity and Self-respect 131
From Day to Day 133
Illness and Death 151
Egoism, Altriusm, Friendship 161
Survival 173
The SS in the Camps 184
Ch. IV The Special Case of the Poles 195
The Conflict between Poles and Germans 195
The Second Kulturkampf 208
Polish Scholars and the Concentration Camps 217
Ch. V After the Liberation 237
Back to Freedom 237
New Lives, Old Nightmares 248
Conclusion and Prognosis 261
Lagersprache (Camp Language) 263
Annotated Bibliography 269
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