Find­ing Home and Home­land: Jew­ish Youth and Zion­ism in the After­math of the Holocaust

  • Review
By – October 31, 2011

In Find­ing Home and Home­land, Avi­noam J. Patt, the Feld­man Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Jew­ish His­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hart­ford, has pro­duced a care­ful­ly nuanced study of how young Jew­ish sur­vivors of the Holo­caust (ages 15 to 23) were pre­pared in the Amer­i­can Zone of Occu­pa­tion in Ger­many, between 1945 and 1948, for mean­ing­ful agri­cul­tur­al work in Pales­tine and lat­er Israel. Draw­ing heav­i­ly on rare archival hold­ings, includ­ing DP camp news­pa­pers, now housed at Israeli and Amer­i­can archives, Patt demon­strates the impor­tant role that Zion­ism and the kib­butz move­ment played in pro­vid­ing a psy­cho­log­i­cal” sur­ro­gate fam­i­ly for state­less Jew­ish youth who by the end of the war had placed all of their future hopes on emi­grat­ing to Palestine. 

This work, which orig­i­nat­ed as Patt’s NYU doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion, pro­vides an impor­tant new con­tri­bu­tion to our under­stand­ing of how Jew­ish refugees adjust­ed to post-war con­di­tions. It also pro­vides an impor­tant, detailed com­ple­ment to Deb­o­rah Dwork’s and Robert Jan van Pelt’s more pop­u­lar Flight From the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933 – 1946, also pub­lished in spring 2009.

Claire Rudin is a retired direc­tor of the New York City school library sys­tem and for­mer librar­i­an at the Holo­caust Resource Cen­ter and Archives in Queens, NY. She is the author of The School Librar­i­an’s Source­book and Chil­dren’s Books About the Holocaust.

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