"An excellent analysis of assimilated groups of Polish Jews who were forced to live together in the Warsaw ghetto from 1940–1943 with all other types of Jews."—New York Journal of Books
"Person, in this informative, readable, and original work, adds to our understanding of the complexity of the social reality of Warsaw ghetto life and death."—Jewish Book World
"Prewar Poland witnessed the secularization of thousands, including Jews who assimilated, intermarried, or converted to Christianity, as well as those of Jewish descent. In 1940 all were lumped together under Nazi racial laws and forced into the Warsaw Ghetto. Based on diaries, memoirs, and interviews, the author describes the tragedy of those adrift in two worlds."—Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews
Jews in Nazi-occupied Warsaw during the 1940s were under increasing threat as they were stripped of their rights and forced to live in a guarded ghetto away from the non-Jewish Polish population. Within the ghettos, a small but distinct group existed: the assimilated, acculturated, and baptized Jews. Unwilling to integrate into the Jewish community and unable to merge with the Polish one, they formed a group of their own, remaining in a state of suspension throughout the interwar period. In 1940, with the closure of the Jewish residential quarter in Warsaw, their identity was chosen for them.
Person looks at what it meant for assimilated Jews to leave their prewar neighborhoods, understood as both a physical environment and a mixed Polish Jewish cultural community, and to enter a new, Jewish neighborhood. She reveals the diversity of this group and how its members’ identity shaped their involvement in and contribution to ghetto life. In the first English-language study of this small but influential group, Person illuminates the important role of the acculturated and assimilated Jews in the history and memory of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Katarzyna Person is a researcher at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland.
6 x 9, 256 pages