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The Ghetto as a Form of Government
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 450, Reflections on the Holocaust: Historical, Philosophical, and Educational Dimensions (Jul., 1980), pp. 98-112
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1042561
Page Count: 15
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Isaiah Trunk's classic study of the Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under the Nazi regime points to four major conclusions. (1) The ghetto was a captive city-state, totally subordinate to German authority while remainng a Jewish entity with traditions and expectations rooted in Jewish experience. The Jewish councils that were placed in charge of the ghettos were facing a dilemma in that they could not follow German instructions without hurting Jews and could not help Jews without obeying the Germans. (2) As a socioeconomic unit, the ghetto was hovering between life and death. The Jewish population could not support itself indefinitely by trading with the outside world; impoverishment spelled out its doom. (3) For the incarcerated Jews, the ghetto was also a mirage. It instilled thoughts of normalcy and continuity in the Jewish community at a time when the Germans were preparing for deportations of the victims to death camps. (4) Finally, the ghetto councils and their police organs were a self-destructive mechanism insofar as they confiscated assets or recruited labor and, in the end, rounded up the people for transport in trains waiting nearby.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science © 1980 American Academy of Political and Social Science