Victims' politics : Jewish behavior during the Holocaust / by Evgeny Finkel
- [Madison, Wis.] : [University of Wisconsin--Madison], 2012
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 322-349)
- External Link
The dissertation addresses the variation in the behavior of victims of genocides and mass killings: why do some resist, some try to escape, some cooperate with the perpetrators, and some simply do nothing? What explains different modes of victims' individual and group behavior? The study answers these questions by focusing on Jewish behavior during the Holocaust. I argue that the behavior of the Holocaust victims was determined by pre-genocide political and social factors, first and foremost activism in political parties and organizations and the level of integration into the broader non-Jewish society. The first part of the dissertation explains the variation in patterns of collective Jewish resistance to the Nazis. Drawing on a unique dataset of more than 1,100 Jewish ghettos established by the Nazis and linking the data on ghettos with pre-war electoral returns from Polish national elections and elections for the Zionist Organization World Congress, I find that Jewish armed resistance was more likely to emerge in communities that exhibited high levels of political activism prior to the Holocaust. I also find that the vast majority of ghetto uprisings took place in Eastern Poland--a territory that was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1939-41 and then by Germany in 1941-4. The second part of the dissertation examines how and why Holocaust victims chose their individual strategies of survival. I propose a new typology of victims' behaviors, arguing that the choice of a particular survival strategy was linked to victims' pre-Holocaust political and social experiences. I examine how Jews targeted by the Nazis chose their survival strategies. Focusing on the ghettos of Minsk (USSR until 1941, Nazi occupation 1941-4), Kraków (Poland until 1939, Nazi occupation 1939-45), and Białystok (Poland until 1939, Soviet occupation 1939-41, Nazi occupation 1941-4) I also show how distinctively local histories, legacies, and factors affected the patterns of collaboration, coping, evasion, and resistance in each city.
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