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Book Reviews 157 familial relations. In the end Jewish identity was very complex, since Jews were simultaneously Jews, Germans, and members oftheir local communities. As a large compilation ofwork by numerous scholars the volume suffers on several counts. Throughout there is an unevenness in depth ofpresentation and scope oftopics; there is not always clear agreement as to definitions; and at times the very concepts and categories that have traditionally been used to discuss elite and urban Jewry seem to be hastily pasted over the subject of rural Jewry. On balance, however, this volume represents a very important and early contribution to the subject. It is well-edited and documented, and very easy to reference. The opening and concluding remarks set a very appropriate context for the discussion, and the essays themselves are presented in an intelligent and useful order. This book should be required reading for anyone studying early modem or modem German Jewry. Dean Phillip Bell Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies Die Juden in Deutschland 1933-1945: Leben unter Nationalsozialistischer Herrschaft, edited by Wolfgang Benz. Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1996. 779 pp. Die Juden in Deutschland 1933-1945, which is the fourth unrevised edition of a study first published in 1988, is a comprehensive social and cultural history of the German Jews under Nazi sovereignty. This study is unusual, perhaps unique, in that its primary concern is not to depict and discuss Jews as the victims of persecution, but rather to describe and document all aspects ofthe everyday life of German Jews living in Germany under the Nazis. To this end, Wolfgang Benz and the other very able scholars who contributed to this volume examine the economic and social conditions as well as the intellectual, spiritual and cultural life of these Jews in minute detail. Die Juden in Deutschland 1933-1945 is well-researched and written with great sensitivity and intelligence. Each of the contributors is responsible for one or more chapters, and each chapter treats a single subject with considerable thoroughness. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that this book is not just the usual collection of loosely related essays; instead, the various contributions combine to form a coherent whole, evoking a real sense of both the excruciating plight and the seemingly undauntable spirit of a people. The structure of the book is both chronological and logical. It opens with a chapter that describes in great detail the reaction of German Jews to Hitler's ascension to power in 1933 and concludes with a chapter on the Jews who went underground in Germany in the years 1943-1945. The intervening chapters treat such topics as the economic life of the Jews, art and entertainment, pogroms and emigration. 158 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 Each contribution to this study offers a wealth of information and documentation that is likely to enhance the knowledge ofall but the most serious students ofthe topic, and even they may well come away with, at least, some useful nuggets of information or even a new perspective on the subject. In my view, the primary value ofthis book is that it presents a wealth of well documented information on a topic that has been neglected, and that it does this without depersonalizing or sentimentalizing the people who are its subject. In the first chapter, for instance, Gunter Plum describes in painstaking and painful detail the internecine quarrels that characterized much of the German Jewish effort to formulate a response Hitler and his policies. Plum introduces the reader to the leaders ofa wide spectrum ofpolitical, cultural, and religious factions; he describes and makes comprehensible the nature and basis of their positions without resorting to oversimplification; he dramatizes the interaction and friction among the various factions by simply reproducing portions ofthe speeches and manifestos oftheir leaders. Thus, by means of the deft but sober and objective juxtaposition of texts and of events, Plum allows us to witness and better understand the seemingly inexorable flow toward tragedy. All the other contributions to this study are also well conceived and highly informative. Die Juden in Deutschland 1933-1945 is a generally attractive volume that is almost completely free of typographical errors or other such...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 157-158
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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