Safe Among the Germans

Liberated Jews After World War II

Ruth Gay

View Inside Price: $37.00


July 29, 2011
368 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
30 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300180145
Paper

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Cloth

This book tells the little-known story of why a quarter-million Jews, survivors of death camps and forced labor, sought refuge in Germany after World War II. Those who had ventured to return to Poland after liberation soon found that their homeland had become a new killing ground, where some 1,500 Jews were murdered in pogroms between 1945 and 1947. Facing death at home, and with Palestine and the rest of the world largely closed to them, they looked for a place to be safe and found it in the shelter of the Allied Occupation Forces in Germany.

By 1950 a little community of 20,000 Jews remained in Germany: 8,000 native German Jews and 12,000 from Eastern Europe. Ruth Gay examines their contrasting lives in the two postwar Germanies. After the fall of Communism, the Jewish community was suddenly overwhelmed by tens of thousands of former Soviet Jews. Now there are some 100,000 Jews in Germany. The old, somewhat nostalgic life of the first postwar decades is being swept aside by radical forces from the Lubavitcher at one end to Reform and feminism at the other. What started in 1945 as a “remnant” community has become a dynamic new center of Jewish life.

Ruth Gay has written extensively on Jewish history. Her other books include Jews in America: A Short History and Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America, for which she won the 1997 National Jewish Book Award for nonfiction.

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“As fascinating to read as it is illuminating.”—Christine Haase, German Studies


“Ruth Gay has turned her considerable talents toward post–World War II Germany and the question of how Jews could still live there after the Holocaust. Her book—the first to focus on this—is well written, both scholarly and poignantly human.”—Marion Kaplan, New York University

“In eloquent prose, Gay renders a portrait of a changing community that, notwithstanding internal conflict and scorn from abroad, has emerged as small but vibrant.”—Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, Lilith

“This book provides an eminently readable introduction to the subject of Jewish life in Germany after the Holocaust. . . . Gay gives the reader a worthy overview. The scope of her secondary research makes Safe among the Germans a notable distillation of the pre-existing scholarship on various aspects on post-1945 Jewish life in Germany. Moreover, her extensive use of quotations from those who experienced the events first-hand gives her story a human touch, and her writing is light and engaging. In this sense, this book serves as an interesting broad introduction to the topic, and it will be of particular use to the non-specialist who wishes to acquire some familiarity with the topic.”—Jay Geller, H-Net Reviews

“[A] well-written account. . . . Gay cleverly gathers various sources and presents a social history that is a pleasure to read.”—Severin Hochberg, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
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