Eliezer Gruenbaum, the communist son of Yitzhak Gruenbaum, who was a prominent leader of Polish Jewry between the two world wars and Israel’s first interior minister, was a kapo in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Eliezer survived only to die fighting in the war for Israeli independence. His story is captivating not only for its biographical appeal but also for the unique “statement of defense” memoir he has left behind.This paper will expose the English-speaking reader to excerpts of this singular text for the first time. It will also offer a careful analysis and interpretation of Eliezer Gruenbaum’s psychological struggle to work through his controversial past. We will frame his narrative as wavering between two perhaps contradicting identifications—with his readers and with the victims—with neither of whom he can fully identify.The same activist stance that urged him to write, appealing to his reader’s acquittal, prevented him from truly understanding the total helplessness of the real victims.


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pp. 1-23
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