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Eichmann's Jews: The Jewish Administration…
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Eichmann's Jews: The Jewish Administration of Holocaust Vienna, 1938-1945

by Doron Rabinovici

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This book deals with a very controversial issue - the apparent collaboration of Austrian Jews with the Nazi Third Reich's programme for their extermination. How could they have participated in something so horrific, and why did they?

Doron Rabinovici is a Viennese Jew born after the war in Israel, but his family returned to Austria when he was 3. He has also written several novels and a collection of short stories. Eichmann's Jews was originally published in German under the title Instanzen der Obnmacht, which translates as Authorities of Powerlessness. It is based on his PhD thesis.

Adolf Eichmann was a senior SS figure whose job in Austria from 1938 was to implement the Final Solution, and many of his methods were also used in other countries which came under Third Reich rule, such as the use of Jewish community leaders and organisations to help carry out the dirty work.

Rabinovici describes the Jewish population of Vienna before the Anschluss brought Austria under Nazi rule in 1938 - the Vienna Israelite Community or Kultusgemeinde had responsibility for various social services, health care and educational functions as well as synagogues, and had hundreds of paid staff, and presumably lots of records and information about the city's Jewish population. Austrian Jews had faced a lot of anti-Semitism long before the Nazis - this had intensified in the 1930s, and there was substantial anti-Semitic legislation.

Eichmann's Jews were recruited by a mixture of coercion and persuasion. The community leaders involved were called to meetings where they were offered little choice. They were invited to discuss the systematic expulsion of Jews, and hoped to be able to negotiate emigration to Palestine and elsewhere for their community members. Although they were unable to fund the services they had previously run, they tried to find a way to continue running soup kitchens, vocational training to help people emigrate and prisoner support. Later, the Nazis forcibly recruited Jewish thugs and grouppenfuhrers (group leaders) to help round up Jews for deportation to concentration camps.

Rabinovici outlines how it all happened in fascinating and horrifying detail. While many of Eichmann's collaborator Jews were themselves later sent to camps and killed, those who survived were often judged, sentenced and punished for their involvement in war crimes than non-Jews - again, this is meticulously documented.

Eichmann's Jews is clearly a product of extensive academic research, backed up by over 40 pages of endnotes for a text of just over 200 pages. I don't know what the German text is like, but the English translation seems very well written, with real clarity and flow. The complexity and contradictions in the story of what happened to the Jews of Holocaust Vienna is presented in lots of short, straightforward sentences.

Given its subject matter, this is not an easy or entertaining read but a worthwhile, thought provoking and disturbing account of a particular part of Holocaust history. ( )
1 vote elkiedee | Jan 16, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0745646824, Hardcover)

The question of the collaboration of Jews with the Nazi regime during the persecution and extermination of European Jewry is one of the most difficult and sensitive issues surrounding the Holocaust. How could people be forced to cooperate in their own destruction? Why would they help the Nazi authorities round up their own people for deportation, managing the ‘collection points’ and handling the people being deported until the last moment?

This book is a major new study of the role of the Jews, and more specifically the ‘Judenrat’ or Jewish Council, in Holocaust Vienna. It was in Vienna that Eichmann developed and tested his model for a Nazi Jewish policy from 1938 onwards, and the leaders of the Viennese Jewish community were the prototypes for all subsequent Jewish councils. By studying the situation in Vienna, it is possible to gain a unique insight into the way that the Nazi regime incorporated the Jewish community into its machinery of destruction.

Drawing on recently discovered archives and extensive interviews, Doron Rabinovici explores in detail the actions of individual Jews and Jewish organizations and shows how all of their strategies to protect themselves and others were ultimately doomed to failure. His rich and insightful account enables us to understand in a new way the terrible reality of the victim’s plight: faced with the stark choice of death or cooperation, many chose to cooperate with the authorities in the hope that their actions might turn out to be the lesser evil.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:16 -0400)

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