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by Barbara Epstein

  • ISBN: 0520242424
  • Category: History
  • Author: Barbara Epstein
  • Subcategory: World
  • Other formats: txt mbr rtf doc
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First edition (July 28, 2008)
  • Pages: 376 pages
  • FB2 size: 1843 kb
  • EPUB size: 1839 kb
  • Rating: 4.8
  • Votes: 343
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The Minsk Ghetto is an invaluable, and deeply moving addition to Holocaust and World War II history. ―Richard Walker, author of The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Telling a story that stands in stark contrast to what transpired across much of Eastern Europe, where Jews found few reliable allies in the face of the Nazi threat, this book captures the texture of life inside and outside the Minsk ghetto, evoking the harsh conditions, the life-threatening situations, and the friendships that helped many escape almost certain death.

The Minsk Ghetto, 1941 – 1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet . Barbara Epstein argues that it followed naturally that the groups would work in collaboration during the War. Epstein’s book sheds light o. .

The Minsk Ghetto, 1941 – 1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism. University of California Press, 2008. Barbara Epstein asks a serious question, a question that is in many ways unique to Minsk. Epstein’s book sheds light on some of the nuances and complexities that made the Holocaust what it was. It is a testament to the greatness of people who stood up against evil.

Barbara Epstein, The Minsk Людмила Тригос – несомненно, Ghetto, 1941–1943: Jewish Resis- одаренный исследователь. 2 Shlomo Even-Shoshan. Уверен, tance and Soviet Internationalism что в будущем она порадует нас (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Lon- новыми интересными работами don: University of California Press, о декабристах и других мифах 2008). 351 pp. Guide to Names, русской культуры.

Start by marking Resistance in the Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943: Jewish .

Start by marking Resistance in the Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

In November 1941 a second ghetto was established in Minsk for Jews deported from the West, known as.

In November 1941 a second ghetto was established in Minsk for Jews deported from the West, known as Ghetto Hamburg, which adjoined the main Minsk ghetto. Above the entrance to this separate ghetto was a sign: Sonderghetto (Special Ghetto). Every night the Gestapo would murder 70–80 of the new arrivals. Barbara Epstein, The Minsk Ghetto 1941–1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism, University of California Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-520-24242-5 (). Hersh Smolar, The Minsk Ghetto: Soviet-Jewish Partisans Against the Nazis, Holocaust Library, 1989, ISBN 0-89604-068-2.

Resistance and Soviet Internationalism. Natalia Krasicka a. a European University Institute. To cite this article: Natalia Krasicka (2012): The Minsk Ghetto, 1941-1943. during the Second World War. Her description of events is an important contribution to the. scant literature on this neglected topic. Having noted significant differences between the.

this book captures the texture of life inside and outside the Minsk ghetto .

Telling a story that stands in stark contrast to what transpired across much of Eastern Europe, where Jews found few reliable allies in the face of the Nazi threat, this book captures the texture of life inside and outside the Minsk ghetto, evoking the harsh conditions, the life-threatening situations, and the friendships that helped many escape almost certain death.

Drawing from engrossing survivors' accounts, many never before published, The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943 recounts a heroic yet little-known chapter in Holocaust history. In vivid and moving detail, Barbara Epstein chronicles the history of a Communist-led resistance movement inside the Minsk ghetto, which, through its links to its Belarussian counterpart outside the ghetto and with help from others, enabled thousands of ghetto Jews to flee to the surrounding forests where they joined partisan units fighting the Germans. Telling a story that stands in stark contrast to what transpired across much of Eastern Europe, where Jews found few reliable allies in the face of the Nazi threat, this book captures the texture of life inside and outside the Minsk ghetto, evoking the harsh conditions, the life-threatening situations, and the friendships that helped many escape almost certain death. Epstein also explores how and why this resistance movement, unlike better known movements at places like Warsaw, Vilna, and Kovno, was able to rely on collaboration with those outside ghetto walls. She finds that an internationalist ethos fostered by two decades of Soviet rule, in addition to other factors, made this extraordinary story possible.
Reviews about The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism (6):
Little has been written about the Holocaust in Belarus, and even less is available in English. Yet in many ways, the Holocaust in Belarus is unique: unlike the rest of Eastern Europe, the general population of Belarus was on the whole very sympathetic of and helpful towards the Jews. The author attempts to answer the question as to why this was, and to tell the fascinating story of the Minsk Ghetto and the resistance movement within. She does very well on both counts.

The Minsk Ghetto leaked like a sieve, with people constantly going in and out: by the time it was liquidated, 10,000 of its residents had escaped and joined partisan groups in the forest, and when you considered that only about 1/4th to 1/3rd of escapees made it to the partians, that means many more escaped the ghetto, and the population wasn't terribly large to begin with. That detail alone has a story behind it -- and there were many other fascinating facts and figures and tales to tell. I found the book absorbing and engaging in addition to being well-researched. I would love to read more of this author's work.
Went Tyu
This book is an extremely detailed, full and well-written account of the Minsk Ghetto and things related to it. It emphasizes the cooperation between the Jews and non-Jews in MInsk and the surrounding areas. It also claims that communism supported this cooperation even though it further says that there was plenty of anti-semitism among the Soviets including the communists.

It seems to me that there may be too much emphasis on the notion of Byelorussian nationality. Personally I have found little to distinguish Byelorussians from Russians, though I don't doubt that Dr. Epstein is much better versed in such matters than I am.
I just read this book and recommend it highly. While it could have used some better editing it tells a bunch of stories that could be the basis for a series of great movies like Defiance. The Amazon product description makes the point about the books exploration of the distinctiveness of the Minsk experience, where a history of relatively low levels of Antisemitism in Belarussia (low for Eastern Europe that is) was reinforced by an egalitarian and overtly anti-Antisemitic Soviet ideology to create the basis for a multi-ethnic resistance movement with broad support from the population as a whole and active support for Jews by ordinary Belarusians and the Belarussian partisan movement which had Jews in its leadership, Jews in its fighting organizations and Jewish fighting units. Some 10,000 Jews were therefore able to escape from the Minsk Ghetto and join the Partisans. Epstein points out the sharp contrast between the situation in Belarussia and those in Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine where Jews found little outside support and sometimes great hostility. She provides overwhelming evidence for her thesis. She also follow up on the wartime resistance story with the postwar denigration of the Minsk resistance and the persecution of its leaders by a Belarussian Communist Party leadership that wanted to cover up the fact that they had fled from the Germans and made no preparations for the creation of an underground resistance. The resistance was only honored at the end of the 1950s after the deStalinization campaign and only then were some of its leaders released from the Gulag. All in all an inspiring and sobering tale.

A well-researched book about the heroic efforts of Belarussian partisans and Communists who worked with the Jewish underground inside the Minsk Ghetto to bring thousands of people out of the hands of Nazis.
Very interesting and well researched and written study of the Minsk Ghetto during WWII. Interesting to compare with the book by Tec on which the movie Defiance was based.
This book is in a league with Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin which it precedes. The author has given us insight into events in Eastern Europe during WWII which are hardly known and which transform the way we can think about the "Holocaust" and how it is used to justify ongoing oppression.

Count Leo Tolstoy viewed history through the eyes of ordinary people. There would have been no Napoleonic invasion of Russia had not French farmer's sons followed the General. The same ordinary people in Byelorussia joined together to resist Nazi occupation. Their cooperation contradicts the common understanding of the relationship of Jews in Nazi ghettos to their non-Jewish neighbors. The accepted reasoning goes that since Jews in the Diaspora could expect nothing but hostility from an anti-Semitic world, their only option has been martyred resistance. This view is crucial to the justification for Zionism, the establishment of the state of Israel, and arguments for Israeli treatment of Palestinians. For Jews survival depends on having their own state based the on motto "never again." Thus Jews have to protect Israel with the same determination that went into the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The argument continues that the Diaspora demonstrates that friends are, at best, unreliable allies and ultimately not trustworthy.

Ms. Epstein has spent much time in Belarus, doing interviews, wrestling with the required languages, and combing archives and personal memorabilia. Her research is impressive. What made White Russia so different from Poland, the Ukraine, and Lithuania? In Minsk Jews forced into the ghetto maintained good relations with the non-Jewish underground outside while the Warsaw ghetto got minimal assistance. This, along with the proximity of Minsk to dense woodlands, made it possible for Jews to join the resistance. Ten percent of ghetto residents were able to escape, about 10,000 women, children and fighters. The comparable figure for Warsaw was 70,000 or 5%, hidden mostly in the city. Not only did Minsk evangelicals open orphanages to hide Jewish children but others, on pain of death, entered the ghetto, hid guns, abetted Jewish sabotage, warned ghetto residents of coming pogroms and made their homes available to refugees and as way stations.

In Minsk the strategy adopted was different than in most other ghettos except to some degree Kovno. Most factions of the Minsk underground saw escaping to the forests to fight with the partisans as the goal whereas elsewhere it was a final apocalypse against the Germans from within the ghetto. When Communist Party officials fled the onslaught of invading Germans, ordinary folk left behind had to create their own resistance from scratch. Fearful of Communist revenge for taking initiative, resistance fighters assumed that somehow they had proper authorization. To check on this across German lines was impossible. It is interesting that when the ghetto was finally razed there were resistance groups which never had had contact with the central ghetto underground, reinforcing the argument that the ghetto underground was self-initiated.

The main theme of the book is summed up in a response Epstein received during an interview. She asked a non-Jewish Byelorussian why Byelorussians helped the Jews. The answer was unselfconsciously, "They were Soviet Citizens." For many Byelorussians were simply fellow citizens who happened to have Jewish stamped on their identity cards for "nationality." This answer stopped me in my intellectual tracks. It does not fit with the arguments about the Holocaust used to justify Zionist behavior. Why in Poland, Lithuania, and the Ukraine were Jews fellow Soviet citizens? The author's answer is very interesting although it still leaves me a bit puzzled. Minsk was in the Russian Pale Settlements to which Jews were confined by Catherine the Great, but treatment of Jews was less harsh than, say, in the Ukraine. Although hostility Epstein towards Jews was generally based on Christian ideology, in Poland and the Ukraine the role of Jews' as money collectors for Polish landlords engendered special hatred. This was not the case in Belarus. In Belarus Jews were, on the whole, much poorer. In both Poland and the Ukraine Jews were seen as richer than they actually were whereas even professional Jews in the cities of Belarus were visibly as poor as their neighbors. And while there were pogroms in Belarus they were much milder than the great pogroms of the Ukraine.

Also when anti-Semitic nationalist movements began to develop in 19th and 20th century Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states, Byelorussians didn't see themselves as so different from Russians that they needed to claim ethnic purity to differentiate themselves. So Jews were not so much an "other" in their midst. White Russians were mostly illiterate poor peasants while in the cities were poor Jews (up to 50%), Russians and other nationalities. With the success of the Russian Revolution, many Jews became part of the Communist apparatus. During the abuses of collectivization and The Great Terror (about which the author says little), Jewish commissars played a noticeable role. But these events had much less effect on White Russians than Ukrainians because there were fewer large peasants whose land and grain were confiscated. Also since collectivization and industrial development mainly improved life in Byelorussia, the populace was more favorably disposed towards the Soviet state.

In traditionally anti-Semitic Poland, its interwar populous and government, saw Jews as communists and socialists allied with forces hostile to Polish nationalism. Whatever were the reasons, Belarus seemed amazingly more accepting of Jews than its neighbors. This laid the basis for cooperation and a different outcome for residents of the Minsk ghetto. The Germans never understood why, but they were unable to gain White Russian sympathy for their anti-Semitic policies. In fact White Russian guards and police often aided Jews and the underground whereas anti-Soviet Ukrainians were known for their collaboration and active persecution of Jews.

Why is so little known about the Minsk ghetto that resurrection of knowledge about it comes as a surprise? Political events after WWII combined to leave it in the shadow. As Snyder points out, with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, possibly to mollify Hitler who equated communism with Judaism, Stalin began to reduce the number of Jews in the Party. And during WWII he identified the struggle with Russian nationalism downplaying the heroism of nationalities and prohibiting mention of the exceptional treatment of Jews by the Nazis. Because the Germans were able to mobilize nationalist anti-communism and anti-Semitism when lands were reconquered peoples who had lived under German rule were suspected of collaboration. In order to not alienate them further, Stalin prevented refugee Jews from returning and cancelled prewar prohibitions against anti-Semitism. In fact, he went further instituting anti-Semitic policies. So until his death, mention of ghetto resistance was almost criminal. In fact distrust of the resistance during the occupation lead to long prison terms for its fighters. Added to this, during the Cold War both the rhetoric of Zionism and, in America, McCarthyism led Jews to be fearful of any reference to Jewish socialism or cooperation between ghettos and communist allies.

The above explanations are historical generalizations. Most of the book is made up of the stories of people. It is impossible to read this book without being awed by individual heroism. I easily fell in love with Raissa Khasenyevich (in two pictures), Chasya Mendeleevan Purslina, Hersch Smolar, and even the German officer Otto Schultz who, with his Jewish lover Ilse Stein, joined the resistance in a story of which movies are made. He was later killed by returning Stalinists. The Germans shot people for the slightest offence, or dragged them off in pogroms of thousands to be eliminated mostly by gunfire but also by carbon monoxide exhaust piped into the back of truck trailers. The resistance and ordinary people faced death daily, crawling out under the ghetto's sloppily barb-wired fence, being found in the wrong place, smuggling an item into the ghetto, hiding a Jew or even looking Jewish. And as Snyder points out, Belarus suffered the highest percentage of population killed during WWII of any country in Eastern Europe. Although while some tortured people gave up their comrades, others said nothing. Maids, hospital workers, members of the Judenrat, secretaries and workers helped to oppose the Germans. Many left records of their deeds and others shared with the author what they had done. Looking at their pictures in the book leaves me to wonder whether I would have had the strength to do what they did; so many died, at least half of those that escaped the ghetto, even whole villages.

Although the forests of White Russia afforded protection and Germans feared to enter them, the Germans did organize systematic attempts to surround and destroy the resistance, burning villages they suspected of helping the underground. Getting to the resistance was always very hazardous and despite clever tactics like a truck supposed to be on its way to work. Many died in their attempts to join the resistance either encountering Germans, getting lost or betrayed.

Of course in German planning the elimination of the Jews was only preparatory to the cleansing of Eastern Europe of Slavs. When food became scarce in Germany the army was instructed to live off the land which lead to the starvation of Byelorussian peasants, a subject outside the scope of this book. Similarly Stalin has been accused of cynically fostering the resistance because he knew the Germans would seek terrible revenge thereby further alienating local populations. But this was unnecessary in Byelorussia because its resistance was home grown. Similarly after the war when the Party went after unauthorized resistance White Russian resistors were punished when what they fought for was the preservation of the Soviet Union and would have taken directions from above if they had been available. Stalin's insanity after WWII, somewhat justified towards Ukrainians and the Balts, was self-destructive when applied to Byelorussians and Jews.

Righteous Gentiles. The author says that this designation, bestowed by Israel on individuals, including some White Russians, does not fit the historical situation that unfolded in Belarus. Having never heard of the concept before, I am shocked and embarrassed that Zionists can be so ethnocentric and arrogant to think they have the right select a few people whom they decide helped them sufficiently. It is more of the Holocaust mentality which sees the world as us against them. It reminds me of the talk of goyim (gentiles) in my childhood. Even as children during WWII we knew that there was something unsavory and inferior about goyim. So among those goyim there are a few who helped us Jews? They are righteous? What would American Jews think of American blacks proclaiming some Jews as Righteous Whities for helping the Civil Rights movement. Are there righteous gooks, gringos, etc. etc. It is obscene, the kind of self-righteousness that his book helps to correct. The horror of what the Germans did is never excusable nor should it ever be made less of. The challenge of where Jewish DPs were to go after the war was not simple. But suffering should never to be used to excuse other oppression or exclusivity. There are no winners in the Genocidal Olympics. That Nuremburg hung Nazis I have little trouble with, and I even understand American soldiers slaughtering concentration camp guards when they first came across the camps (which was quickly stopped), but Russian soldiers who raped several million Axis women on their drive to Berlin should have been punished as should the officials whose drones or war planes incur so much collateral damage. Anti-Semitism was a punishable offense in the first 20 years of the Soviet Union. That Stalin's paranoia deserved punishment does not justify its victims hurting others.

Most of the period of joint resistance took place during 1941 and '42. By the beginning of 1943 Stalingrad had fallen and the Soviets had begun organized resistance behind German lines in Belarus. Shamefully the masters of that effort only partly accepted the accomplishments of the independent resistance, and after the Soviet reconquest, not only denied the resistance its just rewards but abetted the punishment of resistance fighters. The Party's suspicions of resistance collaboration were reinforced by the difficulty of distinguishing between those who worked for or near the Germans who indeed collaborated from those who engaged in sabotage and gathered information for the resistance. On the whole the underground was regarded as guilty until proven otherwise. Punishment was inflicted until the death of Stalin and, for some, restitution did not come until 15 to 25 years after the war.

I don't know how to fully praise this book. Its style is a bit over academic, a fault I also suffer from. Because there are so many names and the same themes are run through in different chapters, I often wondered about redundancies. These factors not withstanding, this is a subtle treatment of a subject that is hardly politically correct in the Untied States, so overwhelming influenced by the Israeli lobby. I think its author deserves much praise both for her scholarship and the courage to write as she does. This is a must read for anyone interested in Eastern Europe and the plight of Jews both during WWII and afterward. It should make us all humble about resting back on historical generalization especially when we use it to try to justify our actions in the current world. How many times have claims of appeasement been justification for immoral wars or ethnic suffering an excuse for abuse of one's neighbors.

Charlie Fisher author and emeritus professor

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