The Death of the Shtetl

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $13.40
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 46%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $13.40   
  • New (6) from $19.90   
  • Used (4) from $13.40   


In this book, Yehuda Bauer, an internationally acclaimed Holocaust historian, describes the destruction of small Jewish townships, the shtetls, in what was the eastern  part of Poland by the Nazis in 1941–1942. Bauer brings together all available documents, testimonies, and scholarship, including previously unpublished material from the Yad Vashem archives, pertaining to nine representative shtetls. In line with his belief that “history is the story of real people in real situations,” Bauer tells moving stories about what happened to individual Jews and their communities.

Over a million people, approximately a quarter of all victims of the Holocaust, came from the  shtetls. Bauer writes of the relations between Jews and non-Jews (including the actions of rescuers); he also describes attempts to create underground resistance groups, efforts to escape to the forests, and Jewish participation in the Soviet partisan movement. Bauer’s book is a definitive examination of the demise of the shtetls, a topic of vast importance to the history of the Holocaust.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews


A "masterful new study" of the shtetl.—Adam Kirsch, Tablet

— Adam Kirsch

Jewish Journal

“Yehuda Bauer [is] a towering and commanding figure among the historians of the Holocaust . . . What makes [The Death of the Shtetl] so important is his insistence on adhering to the highest and strictest standards of scholarship.”--Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal

— Jonathan Kirsch

Publishers Weekly
Eminent Holocaust historian Bauer (Rethinking the Holocaust) examines the death under Soviet and then Nazi occupation of the shtetls, small Jewish communities where lived 30% to 40% of prewar Polish Jewry and one-fifth of all Jews killed in the Holocaust. Burdened by poverty and anti-Semitism, shtetl Jews demonstrated solidarity and devotion to Judaism and family. With the establishment in 1939 of Soviet rule, these traditions and the institutional structures of the Jewish communities collapsed quickly and with little resistance; Bauer speculates on why this was so. From the German occupation in the summer of 1941 until the winter of 1942, Jewish resistance was mainly unarmed, in the form of educating children, baking Passover matzos, and smuggling food. Most of the Polish shtetl Jews were brutally killed between March and December 1942 by Einsatzgruppen (specialized German murder units) or by local militias under German command. The behavior of Jewish leaders ran the gamut from heroic to corrupt, and attitudes of gentile neighbors were usually indifference, suspicion, hostility, and murderous anti-Semitism. Although too specialized for lay readers, Bauer's valuable addition to Holocaust scholarship spotlights an under-researched aspect of the Jewish genocide. Maps. (Jan.)
Benjamin Harshav
"Yehuda Bauer is one of the most prominent scholars of the Holocaust. The Death of the Shtetl is an unusual study of a central aspect of the death of a Jewish nation in Eastern Europe, early annihilated, little documented and little known. The book contains a passionate argument about the writing of history by a veteran historian. The investigation itself is a tour de force."—Benjamin Harshav, editor of The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps 1939-1944
Paula Hyman
“Yehuda Bauer is a masterful historian who has shared with a generation of readers, scholars and non-professionals alike his insights on how to understand the Holocaust. He brings his maturity as a scholar, his clarity, and his ability to tell a story to this book. This is a most significant contribution to Holocaust scholarship."—Paula Hyman, Yale University
Jewish Journal - Jonathan Kirsch
“Yehuda Bauer [is] a towering and commanding figure among the historians of the Holocaust . . . What makes [The Death of the Shtetl] so important is his insistence on adhering to the highest and strictest standards of scholarship.”—Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal
Religious Studies Review - Scott Ury
“Short but extremely informative . . . filled with fascinating discussions and nuggets of information that seem to roll off the author’s pen and onto the printed page.”—Scott Ury, Religious Studies Review
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300167931
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Yehuda Bauer is academic adviser at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, and professor emeritus of Holocaust studies, Hebrew University. He is the author of many books, including Jews for Sale? and Rethinking the Holocaust, both published by Yale University Press.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


1 Background 1

2 The Thirties 13

3 The Soviet Occupation 32

4 The Holocaust in the Kresy 56

5 The Shtetl Community and Its Leadership, 1941-1943 73

6 The Neighbors 92

7 Rebels and Partisans 121

8 The Death of the Shtetl 152

Notes 171

Works Cited 195

Index 199

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)