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A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz: History, Memory, and the by Tuvia Friling

By Tuvia Friling

Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908–1948) used to be a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo whereas interned at Auschwitz. He used to be the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the main sought after secular chief of interwar Polish Jewry who later grew to become the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee in the course of the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the inner. In gentle of the father’s excessive placement in either Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the more youthful Gruenbaum and his suspicious demise in the course of the 1948 Arab-Israeli warfare upload intrigue to an issue that actually facilities at the query of what constitutes—and how can we evaluate—moral habit in Auschwitz.

Gruenbaum—a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader—became a logo exploited by means of competitors of the routine to which he used to be associated. Sorting via this Rashomon-like tale in the cultural and political contexts within which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that hire the Jewish neighborhood in Europe and Israel from the Nineteen Thirties to the Nineteen Sixties.

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Extra resources for A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz: History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival

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Indb 21 4/11/2014 2:48:56 PM war broke out, he set out for Spain and joined the volunteers. After the war he fled with his comrades to France, where he was arrested. When the Nazis conquered France he, like other Jews, Mink among them, was interred in a French concentration camp. Sometime later he was sent to Auschwitz, where he joined the Communist underground. On September 21, 1938, Juan Negrín, who had replaced Largo Caballero as prime minister in May of the previous year, ordered the dissolution of the International Brigades and their evacuation from Spain.

Jewish volunteers also came from Palestine. But not everyone in the Yishuv was happy to see Jewish men and women setting out to fight in Spain. At the time, a huge gulf separated the Palestinian Communist movement from anything that reeked of Zionism. The Zionist parties found themselves growing ever more distant from those who were gradually coming to define themselves as non-Zionists or anti-Zionists. Eliezer left Paris on his way to Spain at the beginning of March 1938, some two years after the war began.

Prisoners sent from places like Italy and France, however, were granted better conditions, traveling only sixty to seventy per railcar. 5 While the Nazis kept their victims in the dark about the nature of the trip, they did give the deportees one piece of advice: deportees should bring good-quality winter coats, with fur linings if possible, as well as silver and gold, diamonds and jewelry, anything easy to carry that could be used in time of need. When the Jews arrived at the camps, the money and valuables were confiscated, sorted, and sent to a storehouse.

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