Holocaust

A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz: History, Memory, and the by Tuvia Friling

By Tuvia Friling

Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908–1948) used to be a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo whereas interned at Auschwitz. He used to be the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the main popular secular chief of interwar Polish Jewry who later turned the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee through the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the inner. In gentle of the father’s excessive placement in either Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the more youthful Gruenbaum and his suspicious dying in the course of the 1948 Arab-Israeli warfare upload intrigue to an issue that actually facilities at the query of what constitutes—and how can we evaluate—moral habit in Auschwitz.

Gruenbaum—a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader—became a logo exploited by way of rivals of the hobbies to which he was once associated. Sorting via this Rashomon-like tale in the cultural and political contexts within which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that lease the Jewish neighborhood in Europe and Israel from the Thirties to the Sixties.

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Extra info for A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz: History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival (The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies)

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This time she had to travel a much greater distance—she left Jerusalem for Paris, as her youngest son, Yonatan, said, “to free the boy,” a boy who was now thirty-one. indb 24 4/11/2014 2:48:56 PM enlist the aid of influential friends and acquaintances. Marc Jarblum, the old family friend, was as always ready to help. In the end, Miriam’s campaign succeeded. Eliezer was permitted to return to Paris. In March 1939, exactly a year after leaving for Spain, he returned to rue Linné to finish up his political economy degree.

Eliezer had his doubts, but he returned to Block 9, only to come down with typhus. The disease, which was rampant because of the camp’s unsanitary conditions, killed many of the inmates. For two weeks he was on the brink of death. He later wrote in a moment of despair that he wished the disease had taken him then. 27 During this time he was beaten several times by Konczal and ss men, partly because of their whims and partly because of his insistence on exempting himself and the members of his group from some of the most arduous disciplinary actions and labors.

He managed to serve as a buffer between them and Konczal. But three weeks later many of them were moved to Block 8, to be replaced in Block 9 by a new influx of inmates. The picture changed. Eliezer now found it harder to do his job, so he took an opportunity to move to Block 4. 26 But he did not remain in that position for long. His remaining friends in Block 9 wanted him back. From the time Eliezer left, they told him, Konczal had turned even more ferocious, killing several prisoners each day.

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