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 was once the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the main renowned secular chief of interwar Polish Jewry who later turned the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee in the course of the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the internal. In gentle of the father’s excessive placement in either Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the more youthful Gruenbaum and his suspicious dying through the 1948 Arab-Israeli struggle upload intrigue to an argument that truly facilities at the query of what constitutes—and how will 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 rivals of the pursuits 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 group in Europe and Israel from the Thirties to the Sixties.

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

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Furthermore, the fact that the Jews, expelled from Spain in 1492, were now returning as freedom fighters, brought color to the cheeks of the new activist Jews of the 1930s. It was a modern, secular, just, and enlightened Crusade. Few expected that the commissars and enforcers of political correctness circulating among them were in fact on the hunt for “spies” and other provocateurs for their blacklists. 8 The idea of systematically recruiting fighters for the Republican cause was proposed by Communist leaders a short time after the conflict broke out.

He understood that there he would have no choice but to act in concert with the ss guards. He refused, but only for a short time, and in 1943 was appointed chief of the isolation block, Block 20. Why did he win this “promotion”? Was he once again voted into it by his friends, or by the leaders of the camp underÂ� ground, as part of their efforts to gain better conditions for the prisoners? Or was he moved up because his ss superiors were impressed with him and thought he was the best candidate to enforce the camp rules?

That government, they claimed, was a sham, serving as a front for workers’ militias that had organized under the sponsorship of the proletarian Left. These forces, said the Right, were destroying Spain’s economic and industrial infrastructure. 4 “Better to destroy Madrid than to leave it in the hands of the Marxists,” declared General Francisco Franco, the rebels’ leader. 6 Many of the parties had an interest in war. indb 15 4/11/2014 2:48:56 PM lead to the establishment of a worldwide proletarian front.

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