A History of East European Jews
Heiko Haumann, Professor of History of Eastern
Europe at the University of Basel
Translated by James Patterson
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
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.
" 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 Jews' (sometimes referred to simply as
Ostjuden). They are not simply 'the Jews in Eastern
Europe'- although they developed there as a characteristic
type - because they are scattered throughout the world.
They have left behind their dead in many countries.
Often, memory remained their only homeland."
- from the Foreword of the book
An easily readable introduction into a widely researched
scholarly field, A History of East European Jews
provides useful information for the educated and interested
general reader. Further reading on the subject is stimulated
by the work's extensive bibliography.
"Haumann is a well-known specialist in eastern
European Jewish history who teaches at the University
of Basel. His popular one volume history of east European
Jewry appeared in two editions in German and it has
also been translated into a number of languages.
... a very readable general introduction to east European
Jewish life and culture." - Religious Studies
1. Poland as a place of refuge for Jews
2. The Ostjuden as a new way of life in Eastern
Europe 3. Crisis of the Jews in Eastern Europe
and a new identity 4. Attempted annihilation
and new hope
ISBN 978-963-9241-37-4 cloth $49.95 / €42.95 / £33.00
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