Elder of the Jews: Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt

Ruth Bondy, Author Grove Press $26.95 (476p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1007-7
After the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, they made the old fortress town of Theresienstadt (Terezin) a ``model camp'' for Jewish prisoners. Presented to visiting foreign observers (and to new inmates) as an autonomous Jewish community, Terezin was actually, for nearly all prisoners, just a stopover before Auschwitz. In this heartrending, powerful biography-cum-historical narrative, Bondy--herself a survivor of both Theresienstadt and Birkenau--tells the story of Polish socialist Jakob Edelstein, who, as a Zionist leader, was appointed chief Jewish functionary of Therensienstadt by the Nazis. Some critics have passed harsh judgment on the Judenrate (local Jewish councils) operating under Nazi rule. In contrast, Bondy's dispassionate chronicle claims that Jewish inmates held Edelstein in esteem and did not consider him a German lackey. An attempt to elucidate the fate of Eastern Europe's Jews through the life of one individual, this biography will move readers of all persuasions. Photos. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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