“We were both small nations whose existence could never be taken for granted,” Vaclav Havel said of the Czechs and the Jews of Israel in 1990, and indeed, the complex and intimate link between the fortunes of these two peoples is unique in European history. This book, by one of the world’s leading authorities on the history of Czech and Slovak Jewry during the Nazi period, is the first to thoroughly document this singular relationship and to trace its impact, both practical and profound, on the fate of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia during the Holocaust.
Livia Rothkirchen provides a detailed and comprehensive history of how Nazi rule in the Czech lands was shaped as much by local culture and circumstances as by military policy. The extraordinary nature of the Czech Jews’ experience emerges clearly in chapters on the role of the Jewish minority in Czech life; the crises of the Munich agreement and the German occupation, the reaction of the local population to the persecution of the Jews, the policies of the London-based government in exile, the question of Jewish resistance, and the special case of the Terezin (Theresienstadt) ghetto. The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia is based on a wealth of primary documents, many uncovered only after the 1989 November Revolution. With an epilogue on the post-1945 period, this richly woven historical narrative supplies information essential to an understanding of the history of the Jews in Europe.