A Fatal Balancing Act: The Dilemma of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, 1939-1945 | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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A Fatal Balancing Act: The Dilemma of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, 1939-1945

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A Fatal Balancing Act

The Dilemma of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, 1939-1945

Beate Meyer
Translated from the German by William Templer

454 pages, 5 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-027-6 $179.00/£132.00 / Hb / Published (September 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78533-214-2 $39.95/£31.95 / Pb / Published (June 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78238-028-3 eBook


View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“One of the more remarkable things about Meyer’s study is her almost total lack of criticism of the various Jewish leaders in the RJD and the RR.… Meyer sees the work of the RJD and the RR in a very different light. She argues that these Jewish leaders worked continuously through various phases of Nazi Germany’s ever-changing policies on the “Jewish Question” to find ways to ameliorate such policies…a masterful study of a phase of the Shoah that needs further exploration.” • Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“The strength of the book lies in the sophisticated and nuanced analysis, the encyclopedic detail she provides of the challenges the functionaries faced, and of the organizational changes and constraints during Nazi rule… this is an excellent book, meticulously researched, and it will be a major contribution to the field.” • German History

“Meyer has written a highly informative and fascinating study. She discusses complicated topics in a very balanced way, describing without judgment the dilemma in which both the organization and Jewish functionaries found themselves. This book is a masterpiece.” • American Historical Review

“The book should be required reading.” • Czech Historical Journal

“The author grounds her analysis in an imporessive array of sources unearthed in dozens of archives in Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic…Meyer’s work is a much needed addition to the fields of German-Jewish and Holocaust history and deserves a broad readership beyond specialists.” • German Studies Review

“…an extremely well researched and meticulously-documented study, relying heavily on original source material to document the history of the Reich Association of Jews… during WWII…This is an excellent addition to a Holocaust studies program or library.” • Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

“[The author] keeps the focus on the individual without ever losing sight of the overall crime. This book…can be considered as an essential contribution to the history of the extermination of the German Jews.” • Bulletin of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Frankfurt

“Beate Meyer succeeds in producing a nearly complete picture of procedures and decisions within the organization. In addition she describes openly but not without empathy the diverse, often narrow perspectives and possibilities of responsible individuals in their respective situation.” • Sehepunkte

“The attraction of the book lies not only in the clearly presented results of wide ranging archival material, Meyer also offers a reconstruction of the eventual tragic-political entanglement of the Reich Association with the NS-regime. The study is impressive with its highly informative and factual presentation.” • Jüdische Zeitung


In 1939 all German Jews had to become members of a newly founded Reich Association. The Jewish functionaries of this organization were faced with circumstances and events that forced them to walk a fine line between responsible action and collaboration. They had hoped to support mass emigration, mitigate the consequences of the anti-Jewish measures, and take care of the remaining community. When the Nazis forbade emigration and started mass deportations in 1941, the functionaries decided to cooperate to prevent the “worst.” In choosing to cooperate, they came into direct opposition with the interests of their members, who were then deported. In June 1943 all unprotected Jews were deported along with their representatives, and the so-called intermediaries supplied the rest of the community, which consisted of Jews living in mixed marriages. The study deals with the tasks of these men, the fate of the Jews in mixed marriages, and what happened to the survivors after the war.

Beate Meyer is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for the History of German Jews in Hamburg, Germany and is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Hamburg. She has been a Fellow at the International Institute of Holocaust Research in Yad Vashem/Jerusalem (2000/2001) and the USHMM (2010). Recent publications include Jews in Nazi Berlin: From Kristallnacht to Liberation (co-edited, University of Chicago Press 2009).

William Templer is a widely published translator from German, and is based in Shumen, Bulgaria.

Subject: History: World War IIJewish StudiesGenocide History
Area: Germany


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