Jew­ish Hon­or Courts: Revenge, Ret­ri­bu­tion, and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust

Lau­ra Jockusch and Gabriel N. Find­er, eds.
  • From the Publisher
January 6, 2016

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.

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