New Book: Jockusch & Finder, eds. Jewish Honor Courts

Jockusch, Laura, and Gabriel N. Finder, eds. Jewish Honor Courts. Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2015.

 

jewish-honor-courts

 

In the aftermath of World War II, virtually all European countries struggled with the dilemma of citizens who had collaborated with Nazi occupiers. Jewish communities in particular faced the difficult task of confronting collaborators among their own ranks—those who had served on Jewish councils, worked as ghetto police, or acted as informants. European Jews established their own tribunals—honor courts—for dealing with these crimes, while Israel held dozens of court cases against alleged collaborators under a law passed two years after its founding. In Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust, editors Laura Jockusch and Gabriel N. Finder bring together scholars of Jewish social, cultural, political, and legal history to examine this little-studied and fascinating postwar chapter of Jewish history.

The volume begins by presenting the rationale for punishing wartime collaborators and purging them from Jewish society. Contributors go on to examine specific honor court cases in Allied-occupied Germany and Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, and France. One essay also considers the absence of an honor court in Belgium. Additional chapters detail the process by which collaborators were accused and brought to trial, the treatment of women in honor courts, and the unique political and social place of honor courts in the nascent state of Israel. Taken as a whole, the essays in Jewish Honor Courts illustrate the great caution and integrity brought to the agonizing task of identifying and punishing collaborators, a process that helped survivors to reclaim their agency, reassert their dignity, and work through their traumatic experiences.

For many years, the honor courts have been viewed as a taboo subject, leaving their hundreds of cases unstudied. Jewish Honor Courts uncovers this forgotten chapter of Jewish history and shows it to be an integral part of postwar Jewish rebuilding. Scholars of Jewish, European, and Israeli history as well as readers interested in issues of legal and social justice will be grateful for this detailed volume.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in the Postwar Jewish World / Laura Jockusch and Gabriel N. Finder — Why Punish Collaborators? / David Engel — Rehabilitating the Past? Jewish Honor Courts in Allied-Occupied Germany / Laura Jockusch — Judenrat on Trial: Postwar Polish Jewry Sits in Judgment of its Wartime Leadership / Gabriel N. Finder — An Unresolved Controversy: The Jewish Honor Court in the Netherlands, 1946-1950 / Ido De Haan — Jurys d’honneur: The Stakes and Limits of Purges Among Jews in France After Liberation / Simon Perego — Viennese Jewish Functionaries on Trial: Accusations, Defense Strategies, and Hidden Agendas / Helga Embacher — “The Lesser Evil” of Jewish Collaboration? The Absence of a Jewish Honor Court in Postwar Belgium / Veerle Vanden Daelen and Nico Wouters — Jews Accusing Jews: Denunciations of Alleged Collaborations in Jewish Honor Courts / Katarzyna Person — “I’m Going to the Oven Because I wouldn’t Give Myself to Him”: The Role of Gender in the Polish Jewish Civic Court / Ewa Kozminska-Frejlak — Revenge and Reconciliation: Early Israeli Literature and the Dilemma of Jewish Collaborations with the Nazis / Gali Drucker Bar-Am — Changing Legal Perceptions of “Nazi Collaborators” in Israel, 1950-1972 / Dan Porat — The Gray Zone of Collaboration and the Israeli Courtroom / Rivka Brot.

Laura Jockusch is Martin Buber Society Fellow in Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of Collect and Record! Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe. She teaches in the International M.A. Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa.

Gabriel N. Finder is Ida and Nathan Kolodiz Director of Jewish Studies and an associate professor in the Department of Germanic Literatures and Languages at the University of Virginia. He is coeditor of Making Holocaust Memory.

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