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

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4682-4
288 pages
October 2011, Polity
Eichmann
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, manage the 'collection points' and supervise 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 victims' 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.

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Preface.

1 Prologue.

Survivor guilt.

Breaching taboos.

No mass murder without victims.

2 The Vienna Kultusgemeinde before 1938.

Securing evidence - at the scene of the crime.

Jewish strategies to counter anti-Semitism.

The corporate state - in the shadow of the Third Reich.

3 Persecution.

The German invasion and the Austrian response.

Expropriation through the deprivation of rights.

The hunt for booty.

4 Struggle for survival and escape.

The decapitation of the Jewish Community.

The attempt to escape or 'Get rid of the Yids and keep their money here.'

5 The Vienna Jewish community under Nazi control.

The reorganization of the Kultusgemeinde.

Jewish self-help and welfare.

'Emigration' - mass expulsion.

Illegal escape.

6 November pogrom - overture to murder.

7 The Jewish community after the pogrom.

Escape as a last resort.

Functionaries: victims and messengers of terror.

Administration during the terror.

Benjamin Murmelstein.

The employees in the system.

Lateral entrants.

8 Beginning of the end.

Nisko or the dress rehearsal for deportation.

Segregation, concentration and theft.

9 Deportation and extermination.

10 The administration of extermination.

Segregation and identification or a Jewish star for 10 pfennigs.

Liquidation - expropriation to the last.

Designation and handing over of victims.

Welfare and burial service - administration in the shadow of destruction.

11 Die Kultusgemeinde - authorities without power.

Individual stories.

The victims' perspective.

The administration and its employees.

The conditioning of leading functionaries.

Questions of character - individual Jewish functionaries before and after 1945.

12 Discussion of the Jewish councils and the situation in Vienna.

List of abbreviations.

Notes.

Index of persons.

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Doron Rabinovici is a writer and historian and lives in Vienna.
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  • This is a major new study of the very sensitive question of the collaboration of Jews with the Nazi regime.
  • The book uses newly discovered archival material to examine the role of 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, so the situation in Vienna sheds fresh light on the way that the Nazi regime incorporated the Jewish community into its machinery of destruction.
  • This book 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 Jews chose to cooperate with the authorities in the hope that their actions might turn out to be the lesser evil.
  • The author is a well-known and successful writer and he has recently been shortlisted for a prestigious literary prize.
  • This book will be recognized as a major addition to the literature on the Holocaust and it will appeal to anyone interested in Jewish History, the Third Reich and the Holocaust.
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"An important and moving depiction of how Jewish leaders coped with Nazi oppression."
American Historical Review

"Rabinovici's judgments are sensitive and evidence-based. He concludes that the myth of Jewish collaboration and individual self-preservation was part of a post-Holocaust identity resting on the comforting fantasy that those who did not co-operate had resisted. In fact, the Jewish leaders inevitably shared the hopes and delusions of their communities and it was this common fate that makes their role so tragic."
Jewish Chronicle

"A calm and careful analysis of what happened in one major centre of Jewish life."
Birmingham Jewish Recorder

"A unique and candid account of the internal workings of the Jewish community in Vienna during the war. Doron Rabinovici has the courage and the gall to address directly the question of how much Eichmann's Jews facilitated the Holocaust."
Peter Goodrich, Cardozo School of Law, New York

"An extremely well-researched and well-documented book."
H-Net Reviews

"Rabinovici's Eichmann's Jews, together with Hannah Arendt's book on Eichmann, belong among the fundamental texts of political philosophy of the 20th and 21st centuries."
Die Tageszeitung

"Rabinovici is not only an historian but also a great stylist and essayist... His wonderful prose is complemented by the meticulousness of his research. For the reader it is a stroke of luck not only that he knows how to report the facts but also that he is able to express their psychological ambivalence in a literary fashion."
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


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