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a fourth reinforcement was the urgent ideological need on the part of the American hegemony to write out of history the socialist, labour, and communist opposition to the Nazis;  a sidelight on which I've mused from time to time is that most of those who escaped from the Nazi exterminations had resources -- wealth, in other words -- and that most of progressive/radical Jewry was wiped out.  certainly Jewish feminism in Europe was interrupted for decades, as progressive/labour/radical Jewish intellectuals, union leaders, dissident intellectuals (and the first woman rabbi) all fell victim to the Nazi regime while wealthier, less "political" or better connected Jewish families managed to get at least some of their relatives out in time...  this rightward culling of European Jewry and the 2nd wave American diaspora may explain something about Israel's slide from a kind of communitarian socialism to militarist rightism, though of course there are many other factors...

With respect to German Jews your point about who managed to get out is partially true, but only partially. The emigration of German Jews can be roughly divided into several phases. The first came immediately after the Nazis came to power. Then the numbers fell dramatically but slowly rose until the Anschluss and especially Kristallnacht when suddenly almost every German and Austrian Jew wanted to leave, with the exception of the elderly. In that first phase it was precisely the politically and socially active who were most likely to emigrate - those who weren't caught up in the sweeps of Communists and SD's or who were released from the concentration camps soon afterward. Until the final flood, finding a place to go wasn't that hard. It was only in the final phase that the wealthy and/or connected had a real advantage.

In the case of the Jews of Poland and the Soviet Union - the large majority of the victims of the Shoah - you  are more wrong than right. Wealth was no advantage. On the other hand being a communist activist was since you were likely to flee along with the Soviet authorities in 1941. As a result communist activists survived in very disproportionate numbers. You are right for Poland  in two ways - the assimilated Jews (roughly ten percent of the Jewish population) were more likely to have friends who could hide them or their children, and they were also able to 'pass' as Aryans.  Better off Jews, along with non-communist activists of any political stripe were also more likely to end up in the Gulag where as it turned out their chances of survival were higher than in German occupied Poland. Assimilated Jews tended to be middle class, but considering that some three quarters of the Polish Shoah survivors survived in the USSR, and the vast majority of assimilated Jews in occupied Poland died, the net effect favored left wing activists. (some 200,000-250,000 survived in the USSR vs 60,000-80,000 in Poland)

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 08:12:08 PM EST
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good points Marek, many thanks for a substantial refutation and expansion of my half-baked notion.  it will take me some reflection to absorb the many ironies in your accounting of the fate of Polish Jews...  much appreciated.

I wonder if there were subtle demographic shifts also in the destinations of the different waves of refugees... for example the father of a friend of mine, a fairly late-phase escapee, went first to Turkey, then S America, where he married a fellow refugee;  after some time they managed to get into the US.  they were both from affluent urban Jewish families;  family businesses and properties had been confiscated by the Nazis, but cash, jewelry, clothing, etc. could be sold to finance their escape.  I wonder if the earlier progressive/labour refugees would have followed similar paths, or if they would have perhaps gone only as far as the USSR or France, and how many perished there in the Resistance or on the eastern front...  another friend's father was Ukrainian, a survivor of the Stalinist starvation programme;  he married a German refugee after fleeing from conscription in both Stalin's army and the German army, and somehow obtained entry to Canada... and settled in an area where there was a small concentration of Greek Orthodox Ukrainians.

so many millions of individual stories, each one so complex and full of drama and weighty choices and good and bad luck -- in the end determining who would survive and who would not, and what diasporic microcommunities would raise fortunate children in lands of relative plenty and safety, teaching them family histories that could barely be comprehensible by the 2nd generation...  it is mind-boggling, no?

as I watch the Bush Regime laying in place the bricks and mortar of their Kaiser Presidency, the emerging doctrine of absolute presidential power, I wonder whether future historians will discuss the waves of emigration of intellectuals and dissidents from the emerging Bible/Police State...  [only half in jest]

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:01:29 PM EST
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When I was in Australia, I stayed with two Jewish families, and they had fascinating stories. One left Lithuania in 1917 when the Russian Revolution took place - going to China, which they then left after 1949 to go to Australia. (Nothing to do with the nazis). The other family was coming from South Africa which they left in protest against apartheid in the 70s - but I am not sure how they got there.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 04:21:52 AM EST
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one very small niggle, and I know that could be discussed at length as well. I learned in school that the night on the 9 of November should be called Reichsprogromnacht and not Reichskristallnacht, since that was a glorifying term the Nazi's used themselves (even though its origin itself, was a satirical expression of opposition of the events through the "Berliner Schnauze"Wikipedi Entry in German
by PeWi on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 09:16:10 PM EST
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in the Gulag where as it turned out their chances of survival were higher than in German occupied Poland
Just to put the nature of the German occupation of Poland in perspective...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 20th, 2006 at 06:44:24 AM EST
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