A jewish Kapo in Auschwitz: History, memory, and the politics of survival

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5 Scopus citations


Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908-1948) was a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo while interned at Auschwitz. He was the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the most prominent secular leader of interwar Polish Jewry who later became the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee during the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the interior. In light of the father’s high placement in both Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the younger Gruenbaum and his suspicious death during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war add intrigue to a controversy that really centers on the question of what constitutes-and how do we evaluate-moral behavior in Auschwitz. Gruenbaum-a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader-became a symbol exploited by opponents of the movements to which he was linked. Sorting through this Rashomon-like story within the cultural and political contexts in which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that rent the Jewish community in Europe and Israel from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWaltham, Massachusetts
PublisherBrandeis University Press
Number of pages326
ISBN (Electronic)130689204X, 161168577X, 9781306892049, 9781611685763, 9781611685770, 9781611685879
ISBN (Print)1611685761
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameThe Schusterman series in Israel studies
PublisherBrandeis University Press

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)
  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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