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A History of East European Jews

By Heiko Haumann

Publication Year: 2002

The origins and life of East European Jewry took on new historical and political importance after the Holocaust. Two thirds of European Jewry and about one third of the world's Jewish population were murdered by the Nazis. In Poland alone - 99 per cent of Polish Jews - three million in all were killed; Yiddish as a spoken language more or less disappeared. This volume presents a history of East European Jewry from its beginnings to the period after the Holocaust. It gives an overview of the demographic, political, socio-economic, religious and cultural conditions of Jewish communities in Poland, Russia, Bohemia and Moravia. The structure of the book is chronological: a 'history of events' description enriched with cultural elements. Interesting themes include the story of early settlers, the 'Golden Age', the influence of the Kabbalah and Hasidism. Vivid portraits of Jewish family life and religious customs make the book enjoyable to read.

Published by: Central European University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-ix

List of Maps

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pp. xi-13

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Author’s Preface

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pp. xiii-xvi

“I am an East European Jew [Ostjude], and our homeland lies wherever we have our dead.” So speaks the millionaire Henry Bloomfield in Joseph Roth’s novel Hotel Savoy as he visits the grave of his father, Jechiel Blumenfeld. This sentence encompasses the entire history of the ‘East European...

Part I: Poland as a Place of Refuge for Jews

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pp. 1-31

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The Polish Princes’ Offer of Protection from Persecution

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pp. 3-31

Israel saw how its sufferings were constantly renewed, impositions increased, persecutions grew, servitude became more onerous, and the rule of evil led to disaster after disaster and heaped up expulsion after expulsion, so that it could no longer withstand those who hated it, and so it took its leave...

Part II: East European Jewry as a 'Cultural Pattern of Life' in Eastern Europe

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pp. 33-98

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The Catastrophe of 1648

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pp. 35-98

In April 1648 a torrent of Cossacks from the lower reaches of the Dnieper poured into Ukraine attacked Poland from the east and annihilated the Polish army which was stationed there. Encouraged by this victory, Ukrainian peasants rebelled and joined forces with the Cossacks. The Crimean Tatars, vassals of the...

Part III: The Crisis of the Jews in Eastern Europe as a New Identity

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pp. 99-117

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Transformation of the Traditional Intermediary Function [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 101-203

The role of intermediary between town and countryside had been the central economic function of Jews in Eastern Europe. As inn-keepers, small shopkeepers, traders, peddlers, lessees, and administrators they linked together noble landowners, peasants, country or urban craftsmen, big merchants, and entrepreneurs...

Part IV: Attempted Annihilation and New Hope

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pp. 205-231

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The Jews in the Russian Revolution and in the Soviet Union

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pp. 207-244

During the First World War, many Jews played an important role in the growing democratic and revolutionary movement. Many left-wingers were Jews. They were active in organizations which sought to provide relief for the victims of war or were occupied with the problems—for example...

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Afterword: The Significance of Memory

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pp. 245-250

Memory is an essential part of the Jewish conception of the world. The following words are ascribed to Ba’al Shem Tov: “The desire to forget prolongs exile; the secret of redemption is memory.” To remember the Holy Land and the Holy Scriptures, as well as the history of the Jewish people before and after their expulsion...


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pp. 251-262

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 263-270


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pp. 271-281

Back Cover

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p. 307-307

E-ISBN-13: 9786155211522
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639241374

Page Count: 307
Publication Year: 2002

Edition: 1st