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In the Shadow of Hitler

Alabama's Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust

Dan J. Puckett

Publication Year: 2014

In the Shadow of Hitler is the first comprehensive state study of how southern Jews—and non-Jews—dealt with the coming of the Good War and the Nazi persecution of European Jews.

In 1982, the Orthodox congregation of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile, Alabama, reconsecrated a Torah scroll from the Altneuschule in Prague, Czechoslovakia, that had been seized by the Nazis in the midst of the Holocaust. The Nazis, over the course of their occupation of Czechoslovakia, confiscated from Jewish communities throughout Bohemia and Moravia 1,564 Torahs, among numerous other Judaic ceremonial objects. The Nazis had the Torahs cataloged and planned to exhibit them after the war in a museum to the extinct Jewish race. Ahavas Chesed acquired the Altneuschule scroll from the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust to honor the members of those communities who had perished in the camps.

Dan J. Puckett’s In the Shadow of Hitler examines the Jews of Alabama and shows that they were fully aware of events that affected Jews both nationally and internationally. Although Alabama’s Jewish community was divided between Central and Eastern European and Sephardic backgrounds and cultures, and the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox traditions, the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Europe forced this disparate Jewish community to put aside its differences and work together to aid and save European Jewry. In doing so, Alabama’s Jews not only effectively lobbied influential politicians on the local, state, and national level, and swayed the opinions of newspaper editors, Christian groups, and the general public, but their cooperation also built bridges that spanned the cultural and religious divides within their own community.

In the Shadow of Hitler illustrates how this intracommunity cooperation, the impact of the war and the murder of six million European Jews, and the establishment of the state of Israel built the foundation for closer cultural and religious cooperation in Alabama in the decades that followed.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Series: Modern South


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book on Alabama’s Jews and the Holocaust grew from my earlier research on the subject. I had originally planned to write a book that described how Nazism, war, and the Holocaust affected African Americans’ demands for civil rights, which at the time was my primary focus. I also planned to...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. 1-18

In 1982 the Orthodox congregation Ahavas Chesed in Mobile reconsecrated a Torah scroll from the Altneuschule in Prague, Czechoslovakia, that the Nazis had seized in the midst of the Holocaust. The Nazis, over the course of their occupation of Czechoslovakia, confiscated 1,564 Torah scrolls from...

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1. Alabama’s Jews and Nazism, 1933–38

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pp. 19-39

The confluence of two events, the Scottsboro case in 1931 and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany in 1933, produced antisemitic reactions and fears as strong and vibrant as had existed under the Klan in the 1920s. For Alabama’s Central European and Eastern European Jews, these two events...

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2. The Refugee Crisis, 1938–41

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pp. 40-73

As the Nazis enforced increasingly restrictive antisemitic measures such as economic boycotts, professional and social segregation, and the legal removal of their civil rights and citizenship, German Jews were systematically isolated and marginalized. By 1938 the Nazis’ efforts to expunge the ...

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3. Zionism in Alabama, 1933–45

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pp. 74-104

The modern Zionist movement began when Theodore Herzl published Der Judenstaat in 1896 and the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897. It gained further impetus after Great Britain conquered much of the territories that comprised Palestine from the Ottoman...

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4. The Alabama Press, Nazi Antisemitism, and the Holocaust

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pp. 105-130

Alabamians, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, black or white, received most of their information about Nazism, Nazi antisemitism, and the Holocaust in roughly the same fashion: through the press, most commonly from newspapers. Newspapers in the state had no dedicated correspondents abroad;...

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5. The War

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pp. 131-166

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into the Second World War. Despite Japanese aggression, Hitler and Nazi Germany, not surprisingly, figured critically in how Alabama’s Jews responded to the war, whether they supported servicemen on the home front or...


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pp. 167-184

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6. Antisemitism and Racism during the War

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pp. 185-205

Antisemitism had increased noticeably in Alabama during the years preceding the war, driven by the participation of northern Jews in the Scottsboro trials and the antisemitic rhetoric emanating from Nazi Germany, and such bigotry increased after the war began, especially after the American entry....

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7. Postwar Alabama

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pp. 206-224

The end of the war did not end disagreements over Zionism, as the conflict between Zionists and anti-Zionists of the ACJ continued to divide the Jewish communities in Birmingham and Montgomery and would continue to do so until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. In some instances...

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pp. 225-234

For most Alabamians and indeed most Americans, life returned to normal in the years following the end of the war. As time passed, Alabamians reflected back on World War II with growing nostalgia, remembered by many, as Studs Terkel brilliantly chronicled, as the “Good War.”1 The murder of...


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pp. 235-292


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pp. 293-312


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pp. 313-326

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381073
E-ISBN-10: 0817381074
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817313289
Print-ISBN-10: 0817313281

Page Count: 342
Illustrations: 21 illustrations
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Modern South
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OCLC Number: 879306253
MUSE Marc Record: Download for In the Shadow of Hitler

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Alabama.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees -- Alabama.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945).
  • Jews -- Alabama -- History -- 20th century.
  • Alabama -- Ethnic relations.
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