The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police

The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police

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As a force that had to serve two masters, both the Jewish population of the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania and its German occupiers, the Kovno Jewish ghetto police walked a fine line between helping Jews survive and meeting Nazi orders. In 1942 and 1943 some of its members secretly composed this history and buried it in tin boxes. The book offers a rare glimpse into the complex situation faced by the ghetto leadership and the Jewish policemen, caught between carrying out the demands of the Germans and mollifying the anger and frustration of their own people. It details the creation and organization of the ghetto, the violent German attacks on the population in the summer of 1941, the periodic selections of Jews to be deported and killed, the labor required of the surviving Jewish population, and the efforts of the police to provide a semblance of stability. The secret history tells a dramatic and complicated story, defending the actions of the police force on one page and berating its leadership on the next. A substantial introduction by distinguished historian Samuel D. Kassow places this powerful work within the context of the history of the Kovno Jewish community and its experience and fate at the hands of the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 416 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 34mm | 679.99g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 23 b&w illus., 3 maps
  • 025301283X
  • 9780253012838
  • 2,092,993

Review quote

The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police is an exceptionally important work! * Martyrdom & Resistance * The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police [is] a source not only for understanding a watershed period in Lithuanian history, the destruction of its historic Jewish population, but also as a guide for understanding Lithuanian history in the period since the end of World War II. * The Lithuania Tribune * The writers of this riveting document . . . were determined to provide a truly balanced history of the Jewish police as it interacted with ghetto inhabitants, the Nazi occupiers, and their Lithuanian auxiliaries. . . . Highly recommended. * Choice * Carefully and unobtrusively edited by ghetto survivor Schalkowsky, the material chronicles the removal of Kovno Jews to the ghetto, the savage beatings and rapes and thefts along the way, and the grave and brave attempts of those confined to organize and to maintain some sort of humanity in the eye of the Nazi hurricane...The detail is extraordinary, and while the authors occasionally assail their tormenters (in print), the tone is otherwise grimly, wrenchingly expository. An introduction by Samuel D. Kassow tells what happened, and there is no light whatsoever in that dark story...Amid all the unspeakable brutality, cruelty, fear, loss and despair, hope somehow lingers until the final gunshot. * Kirkus Reviews * Often, when reading about another episode of Holocaust horror, I instinctively pull back--I am unable to imagine myself in a similar situation. What would I do? What could I do? But I was in another place. They were there--this time, in Kovno: two groups on one side, two on the other, Jewish police and Jewish victims vs. Lithuanian partisans and German Gestapo. The Jews lost. There was never any doubt. No book I've read in recent time about the Holocaust has so moved me, evoking the utter helplessness of the Jew, the plight of the Jewish police and the cunning cruelty of the German. This is a gripping story, page by page, and it reminds us again that there but for the grace of God go we all. Read, remember and, if we can, cry. -- Marvin Kalb * Senior Advisor to the Pulitzer Center and Edward R. Murrow Professor, Emeritus, Harvard Kennedy Scho * The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police is an unsettling document. It does not lead, at least for this reviewer, to compassion fatigue but to unsettling empathy: at the end of reading this document, we will look differently at the moral ambiguity in which the Jewish ghetto police found itself. * Holocaust Studies * The detailed content as well as the analytical and critical quality of the report, combined with the superb introduction by Samuel D. Kassow, make this book a landmark of Holocaust historiography. * Slavic Review * [A] remarkable book, The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police, provides a graphic and unparalleled description of the conditions under which the Jews of Kaunas tried to live and survive during this tragic period. * Jewish Daily Forward * Without mentioning helping Jews leave the ghetto to join the partisans fighting the Nazis (for fear of their manuscript's discovery by the Germans), the policemen relate their struggles to implement directives of the elected Jewish council, hoping to buy time until liberation, nearly always following the demands of the German command while trying to keep their pledge to devote themselves "to the well-being of the Jewish community in the ghetto," a community doomed to annihilation...Of interest to readers seeking to understand the actions of Jews during the Holocaust. * Library Journal *show more

About Jewish Ghetto Police (Anonymous)

The anonymous policemen who composed this secret history were members of a Jewish police force that served in the Kovno ghetto from August 1941 until the Nazis murdered the leadership of the force in March 1944.Samuel Schalkowsky, a survivor of the Kovno ghetto, is a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.Samuel D. Kassow is Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College and author of Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (IUP, 2007).show more

Table of contents

Preface / Samuel SchalkowskyAcknowledgmentsInside the Kovno Ghetto / Samuel D. KassowHistory of the Viliampole [Kovno] Jewish Ghetto Police1. Introduction2. The Prehistory of the Kovno Ghetto3. The Gruesome Period from the Beginning of the Ghetto to the Great Action4. Ghetto Situation After the Great Action (The survivor must live...)5. The Elder Council, the Ghetto Institutions, the Police and the Ghetto Population: Mutual Interrelationships6. Development of the Administrative Apparatus and of the Police after the Action7. The Ghetto Guard and the Jewish Police8. The Ghetto during the Time of the NSKK, Wiedmann and Hermann (Spring and Summer 1942)9. The Police in the Spring and Summer of 1942 (the Caspi Period)10. The Ghetto in the Times of Koeppen, Miller and the Vienna Protective Police (Schutz Polizei)11. The Police in the Last Quarter of 1942Appendix: Evolution of the ManuscriptBibliographyIndexshow more

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