Cohesion and Rupture: The Jewish Family in East European Ghettos During the Holocaust

Peter Y. Medding

in Studies in Contemporary Jewry: Volume XIV: Coping with Life and Death: Jewish Families in the Twentieth Century

Published in print May 1999 | ISBN: 9780195128208
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854592 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Contemporary Jewry

Cohesion and Rupture: The Jewish Family in East European Ghettos During the Holocaust

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This chapter seeks to analyze the Jewish family — specifically, the relationships between members of the nuclear family unit — during the ghetto period in Eastern Europe. Utilizing the framework of the history of the Holocaust, it reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of the Jewish family in extremis, highlighting the role of tradition in the cohesion or dissolution of family bonds. Attention will be given to the impact of ghetto conditions on families from different social groups, and on the role of the Jewish authorities in shaping the patterns of responses and behavior in the family. The focus on family provides a different perspective on the ghetto system, both from the point of view of Nazi policy and from that of the Jewish administration and leadership, shedding light on the everyday lives of individual Jews and their efforts to remain alive. The family was both a burden and a source of strength, hindering many persons' chances of survival while providing others with the motivation to endure despite all odds.

Keywords: Jewish family; ghetto period; Eastern Europe; Holocaust; family bonds

Chapter.  13494 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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