In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism
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In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism : Czech and Slovak Jews Since 1945

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When traumatic historical events and transformations coincide with one's entry into young adulthood, the personal and historical significance of life-course transitions interact and intensify. In this volume, Alena Heitlinger examines identity formation among a generation of Czech and Slovak Jews who grew up under communism, coming of age during the de-Stalinization period of 1962-1968. Heitlinger's main focus is on the differences and similarities within and between generations, and on the changing historical and political circumstances of state socialism/communism that have shaped an individual's consciousness and identity-as a Jew, assimilated Czech, Slovak, Czechoslovak and, where relevant, as an emigre or an immigrant. The book addresses a larger set of questions about the formation of Jewish identity in the midst of political upheavals, secularization, assimilation, and modernity: Who is a Jew? How is Jewish identity defined? How does Jewish identity change based on different historical contexts? How is Jewish identity transmitted from one generation to the next?
What do the Czech and Slovak cases tell us about similar experiences in other former communist countries, or in established liberal democracies? Heitlinger explores the official and unofficial transmission of Holocaust remembering (and non-remembering), the role of Jewish youth groups, attitudes toward Israel and Zionism, and the impact of the collapse of communism. This volume is rich in both statistical and archival data and in its analysis of historical, institutional, and social factors. Heitlinger's wide-ranging approach shows how history, generational, and individual biography intertwine in the formation of ethnic identity and its ambiguities.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 251 pages
  • 160 x 234 x 24mm | 557.93g
  • Taylor & Francis Inc
  • Transaction Publishers
  • Somerset, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0765803313
  • 9780765803313
  • 1,798,014

Review quote

-Reaching outside of the geopolitical context in which Czech and Slovak Jewishness is situated, In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism explores the formation of such cultural identities by examining the ways in which local Jewish identities intersect with, and depart from, the experiences of Jews in neighboring countries, other former communist countries, other former communist countries, and vibrant virtual communities.- --Nila Ginger Hofman, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online -This volume presents the results of Alena Heitlinger's sociological study of some two hundred subjects who self-identified in one way or another as Czech/Czechoslovak/Slovak and 'migr'/immigrant Jews. A study of identity formation, it addresses the creation of Jewish identity against the background of political upheaval, assimilation, modernization, and secularization. . . . This clearly written book deserves the attention of anyone interested in the postwar experience of Jews in Czechoslovakia.- --Nancy W. Wingfield, Slavic Review -This new study explores the biographies and identities of the generation of Czech and Slovak Jews who were born in the aftermath of the Second World War, and came of age in the 1960s, the years of de-Stalinization in Czechoslovakia... [Alena Heitlinger] brings new data, new perspectives, new research methods and new insights to this segment of Jewish history and of Czech and Slovak history... This book will interest scholars and lay readers as well. Beyond the very rich data and insights offered, the open-endedness of Heitlinger's final chapters challenges her readers to further theorize the developments she has outlined within the growing literature on post-Communism in Europe's Jewish Communities.- --Robin Ostow, European Judaism -Alena Heitlinger has written a pioneering, indispensable work on post-War Czech and Slovak Jewry at home and abroad. It will revise our view of East European Jewries and will inspire socio-historical studies of other Jewish communities in formerly Communist Eastern Europe.- --Y. Michal Bodermann, author ofA Jewish Family in Germany Today: An Intimate Portrait -Using surveys, oral histories and hitherto secret archival materials, Alena Heitlinger has written the only comprehensive and analytical history of Czech Jewry in the Communist and post-communist periods. She has the advantage of being both insider and outsider and has made intelligent use of sociological theory to illuminate the events, institutions and personalities she portrays so well.- --Zvi Gitelman, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum -A most significant contribution to our understanding of Jewish culture, identity, and collective memory in the postwar Czech and Slovak Republics. Alena Heitlinger's judicious survey blends historical narrative and sociological analysis to produce a dramatic and compelling account of the efforts to reconstruct Jewish life in East Central Europe in the wake of the Shoah and communist rule.- --Hillel J. Kieval, Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought, Washington University in St. Louis, author of Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands -In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism is an exceptional and ground-breaking work. Academic works on Jewish life in the postwar European Communist countries mainly focus on issues like difficulties of religious life under Communist rule, the role of Jews in the Communist parties, or the infamous anti-Zionist processes and politics in various countries. Heitlinger, however, has turned to a rarely investigated subject: her book sheds light on identity and community formation among Czech and Slovak Jews who grew up in the first two decades of the Communist system. Professor Heitlinger carried out several hundred interviews, conducted focus group discussions and investigated a large number of archival sources in order to create the data-set for her analysis. On the basis of this unique material she has skillfully managed to knit together a coherent picture of the life of 'second generation' Czechoslovak Jewry, which had to fight for a positive identity under the double pressure of the Holocaust and Communist policy. Alena Heitlinger's conclusion contradicts pessimistic forecasts: on the basis of her analysis the author is convinced that the emerging new forms of Jewish life and identities can secure the long-term survival of Jewish communities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.- --Andras Kovacs, professor, Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest "Reaching outside of the geopolitical context in which Czech and Slovak Jewishness is situated, In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism explores the formation of such cultural identities by examining the ways in which local Jewish identities intersect with, and depart from, the experiences of Jews in neighboring countries, other former communist countries, other former communist countries, and vibrant virtual communities." --Nila Ginger Hofman, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online "This volume presents the results of Alena Heitlinger's sociological study of some two hundred subjects who self-identified in one way or another as Czech/Czechoslovak/Slovak and 'migr'/immigrant Jews. A study of identity formation, it addresses the creation of Jewish identity against the background of political upheaval, assimilation, modernization, and secularization. . . . This clearly written book deserves the attention of anyone interested in the postwar experience of Jews in Czechoslovakia." --Nancy W. Wingfield, Slavic Review "This new study explores the biographies and identities of the generation of Czech and Slovak Jews who were born in the aftermath of the Second World War, and came of age in the 1960s, the years of de-Stalinization in Czechoslovakia... [Alena Heitlinger] brings new data, new perspectives, new research methods and new insights to this segment of Jewish history and of Czech and Slovak history... This book will interest scholars and lay readers as well. Beyond the very rich data and insights offered, the open-endedness of Heitlinger's final chapters challenges her readers to further theorize the developments she has outlined within the growing literature on post-Communism in Europe's Jewish Communities." --Robin Ostow, European Judaism "Alena Heitlinger has written a pioneering, indispensable work on post-War Czech and Slovak Jewry at home and abroad. It will revise our view of East European Jewries and will inspire socio-historical studies of other Jewish communities in formerly Communist Eastern Europe." --Y. Michal Bodermann, author ofA Jewish Family in Germany Today: An Intimate Portrait "Using surveys, oral histories and hitherto secret archival materials, Alena Heitlinger has written the only comprehensive and analytical history of Czech Jewry in the Communist and post-communist periods. She has the advantage of being both insider and outsider and has made intelligent use of sociological theory to illuminate the events, institutions and personalities she portrays so well." --Zvi Gitelman, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum "A most significant contribution to our understanding of Jewish culture, identity, and collective memory in the postwar Czech and Slovak Republics. Alena Heitlinger's judicious survey blends historical narrative and sociological analysis to produce a dramatic and compelling account of the efforts to reconstruct Jewish life in East Central Europe in the wake of the Shoah and communist rule." --Hillel J. Kieval, Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought, Washington University in St. Louis, author of Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands "In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism is an exceptional and ground-breaking work. Academic works on Jewish life in the postwar European Communist countries mainly focus on issues like difficulties of religious life under Communist rule, the role of Jews in the Communist parties, or the infamous anti-Zionist processes and politics in various countries. Heitlinger, however, has turned to a rarely investigated subject: her book sheds light on identity and community formation among Czech and Slovak Jews who grew up in the first two decades of the Communist system. Professor Heitlinger carried out several hundred interviews, conducted focus group discussions and investigated a large number of archival sources in order to create the data-set for her analysis. On the basis of this unique material she has skillfully managed to knit together a coherent picture of the life of 'second generation' Czechoslovak Jewry, which had to fight for a positive identity under the double pressure of the Holocaust and Communist policy. Alena Heitlinger's conclusion contradicts pessimistic forecasts: on the basis of her analysis the author is convinced that the emerging new forms of Jewish life and identities can secure the long-term survival of Jewish communities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia." --Andras Kovacs, professor, Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest "Alena Heitlinger has written a pioneering, indispensable work on post-War Czech and Slovak Jewry at home and abroad. It will revise our view of East European Jewries and will inspire socio-historical studies of other Jewish communities in formerly Communist Eastern Europe." --Y. Michal Bodermann, author of" ""A Jewish Family in Germany Today: An Intimate Portrait" "Using surveys, oral histories and hitherto secret archival materials, Alena Heitlinger has written the only comprehensive and analytical history of Czech Jewry in the Communist and post-communist periods. She has the advantage of being both insider and outsider and has made intelligent use of sociological theory to illuminate the events, institutions and personalities she portrays so well." --Zvi Gitelman, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum "A most significant contribution to our understanding of Jewish culture, identity, and collective memory in the postwar Czech and Slovak Republics. Alena Heitlinger's judicious survey blends historical narrative and sociological analysis to produce a dramatic and compelling account of the efforts to reconstruct Jewish life in East Central Europe in the wake of the Shoah and communist rule." --Hillel J. Kieval, Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought, Washington University in St. Louis, author of "Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands" ""In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism" is an exceptional and ground-breaking work. Academic works on Jewish life in the postwar European Communist countries mainly focus on issues like difficulties of religious life under Communist rule, the role of Jews in the Communist parties, or the infamous anti-Zionist processes and politics in various countries. Heitlinger, however, has turned to a rarely investigated subject: her book sheds light on identity and community formation among Czech and Slovak Jews who grew up in the first two de "Alena Heitlinger has written a pioneering, indispensable work on post-War Czech and Slovak Jewry at home and abroad. It will revise our view of East European Jewries and will inspire socio-historical studies of other Jewish communities in formerly Communist Eastern Europe."--Y. Michal Bodermann, author of" ""A Jewish Family in Germany Today: An Intimate Portrait""Using surveys, oral histories and hitherto secret archival materials, Alena Heitlinger has written the only comprehensive and analytical history of Czech Jewry in the Communist and post-communist periods. She has the advantage of being both insider and outsider and has made intelligent use of sociological theory to illuminate the events, institutions and personalities she portrays so well."--Zvi Gitelman, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum"A most significant contribution to our understanding of Jewish culture, identity, and collective memory in the postwar Czech and Slovak Republics. Alena Heitlinger's judicious survey blends historical narrative and sociological analysis to produce a dramatic and compelling account of the efforts to reconstruct Jewish life in East Central Europe in the wake of the Shoah and communist rule."--Hillel J. Kieval, Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought, Washington University in St. Louis, author of "Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands"""In the Shadows of the Holocaust and Communism" is an exceptional and ground-breaking work. Academic works on Jewish life in the postwar European Communist countries mainly focus on issues like difficulties of religious life under Communist rule, the role of Jews in the Communist parties, or the infamous anti-Zionist processes and politics in various countries. Heitlinger, however, has turned to a rarely investigated subject: her book sheds light on identity and community formation among Czech and Slovak Jews who grew up in the first two decades of the
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About Alena Heitlinger

Alena Heitlinger is professor of sociology at Trent University in Canada. She is the author of Women's Equality, Demography and Public Policies and co-author (with Susanna Trnka) of Young Women of Prague. She is the editor of Emigre Feminism: Transnational Perspectives.
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