Surviving the Holocaust : experiences of emigration, deportation and forced labour
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This is a study of survival and the 'Final Solution', taking its perspective from over One hundred-and-fifty eyewitness Jewish testimonies from the Wiener Library Archive. The importance of the victims' perspective is clear in that the majority of historiography uses a Nazi perspective in its analysis, leaving the Jews to tell of their experiences in separate autobiographies. In this way, the archive has largely been ignored by historians, yet provides some challenging insights into the three central aspects of the Holocaust of emigration, deportation, and forced labour. These aspects serve as the framework for analysis and focus on four key themes of survival. Firstly, the awareness of Jews as to the true nature of the Nazi regime. Secondly, how these Jews were treated by European non-Jews who have often been criticized in secondary literature for being anti-Semitic. Thirdly, how the various German regions were inconsistent in dealing with European Jews; sometimes indifferent to the low status of Jews in the Nazi hierarchy and other times imposing extensive and vicious procedures to further the policy of making Germany Judenfrei. Fourthly, the extent of pure luck in saving many Jews from the death centres. Ultimately, this study sets out both to analyse these four key themes individually and to discover how they influenced survival in combination. This will demonstrate the complexity of everyday existence in the Holocaust and how adapting to it often required more than just a single moment of adjustment to its severity.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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