Jews in Poland and Russia, 1914-2008

Overview

In his three-volume history, author Antony Polonsky provides a comprehensive survey - socio-political, economic, and religious - of the Jewish communities of eastern Europe, from1350 to the present. Until the Second World War, this was the heartland of the Jewish world: nearly three and a half million Jews lived in Poland alone, while nearly three million more lived in the Soviet Union. Although the majority of the Jews of Europe and the United States, and many of the Jews of Israel, originate from these lands, ...
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Overview

In his three-volume history, author Antony Polonsky provides a comprehensive survey - socio-political, economic, and religious - of the Jewish communities of eastern Europe, from1350 to the present. Until the Second World War, this was the heartland of the Jewish world: nearly three and a half million Jews lived in Poland alone, while nearly three million more lived in the Soviet Union. Although the majority of the Jews of Europe and the United States, and many of the Jews of Israel, originate from these lands, their history there is not well known. Rather, it is the subject of mythologizing and stereotypes that fail both to bring out the specific features of the Jewish civilization which emerged there and to record what was lost. Jewish life, though often poor materially, was marked by a high degree of spiritual and ideological intensity and creativity. Polonsky recreates this lost world - brutally cut down by the Holocaust and less brutally but still seriously damaged by the Soviet attempt to destroy Jewish culture. Wherever possible, the unfolding of history is illustrated by contemporary Jewish writings to show how Jews felt and reacted to the complex and difficult situations in which they found themselves. This third volume deals with the 20th century. Starting from the First World War and the establishment of the Soviet Union, the book deals in turn with Poland, Lithuania, and the Soviet Union up to the Second World War. It then reviews Polish-Jewish relations during the Second World War and examines the Soviet record and the Holocaust. The final chapters deal with the Jews in the Soviet Union and in Poland since 1945, concluding with an epilogue on the Jews in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia since the collapse of communism. (Volume I covers the period 1350 to 1881, while Volume II covers 1881 to 1914.) *** "Polonsky's sweeping study offers an illuminating, accessible view of Jewish life in eastern Euope since the end of World War II. In elegant prose, the author engages major historiographical issues while analyzing important cultural, religious, social, and political trends among eastern European Jewry. He carefully frames each section with a chapter-long overview of the relevant historical context for the following chapters . . . Throughout, Polonsky masterfully navigates the different realms of a turbulent eastern European Jewish world, conveying both the richness of its history and the tragedy of its destruction. Highly recommended". - J. Haus, Choice, November 2012, Vol. 50 No. 03 *** "Definitive . . . The scope is immense and the author does an impressive job of synthesizing a vast literature . . . This trilogy will no doubt serve as a standard history of east European Jewry for a long time." - Shaul Stampfer, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 38, No. 4, December 2012 *** "The Jews in Poland and Russia contains a meticulously crafted synthesis of existing historiography, and yet also goes far beyond. Antony Polonsky's particular scholarly achievement lies in the fact that he combines a masterful grasp of Jewish history with that of Eastern Europe. . . . these beautifully narrated volumes should not only be seen as a staple for university courses, but also as a must-read for anyone attempting to understand any aspect of modern Jewish history and religious tradition, wherever it may be playing out. It all originates in Eastern Europe, Antony Polonsky reminds us, and without understanding our collective past, how can we understand our present." - European Judaism, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2013 *** "Magisterial . . . all three volumes, but particularly Volume 3, should be of special interest to Polish Americans and all Americans interested in the history of the Jews in Poland, Lithuania, and Russia." - Anna M. Cienciala, Polish Review√č?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781904113485
  • Publisher: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 934
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps xi

List of Tables xi

Note on Transliteration xiii

Note on Place Names xiv

Maps xv

General Introduction 1

Part I From the First World War to the Second

1 The First World War and its Aftermath 5

2 The Jews in Polish Political and Social Life, 1921-1939 56

3 Jewish Life in the Towns and Cities of Inter-War Poland 98

4 Jewish Writers in Independent Poland 150

5 Religious Life in Inter-War Poland 184

6 Lithuania between the Two World Wars 205

7 Jews in Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union, 1921-1941 239

8 Towns, Shtetls, and Agricultural Settlements in the Soviet Union 274

9 Jewish Writing in Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917-1941 299

Part II War and Genocide, 1939-1944

Introduction 359

10 The Prelude to the 'Final Solution', 1939-1941 361

11 The Mass Murder of the Jews, 1941-1944 413

12 Jewish Responses to Nazi Persecution 476

13 Contemporary Literary Responses to the Genocide 538

14 The Soviet Government and the Holocaust 563

Part III From the End of the Second World War to the Collapse of the Communist System

Introduction 591

15 From 1944 to the Death of Stalin 593

16 From the Death of Stalin to the Invasion of Czechoslovakia 654

17 The Last Years of Communism, 1968-1991 708

Epilogue Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia Since the End of Communism

Introduction 763

18 Jews in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania since 1991 765

19 Jews in Poland since the End of Communism 809

Conclusion 831

Glossary 835

Bibliography 849

Index 935

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