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Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany
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Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  295 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Between Dignity and Despair draws on the extraordinary memoirs, diaries, interviews, and letters of Jewish women and men to give us the first intimate portrait of Jewish life in Nazi Germany. Kaplan tells the story of Jews in Germany not from the hindsight of the Holocaust, nor by focusing on the persecutors, but from the bewildered and ambiguous perspective of Jews trying ...more
Hardcover, studies in jewish history, 304 pages
Published April 23rd 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1998)
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Lewis Weinstein
So sad to read ... a documentation of the Nazi web tightening around German Jews ... their confusion and panic and efforts to leave ... the changing roles of women forced to assume greater responsibilities.


... Jewish women were (compared to Jewish men) ... more sensitive to discrimination ... more eager to leave Germany ... more willing to face uncertainty abroad

... many Jewish women experimented with new behaviors never before attempted by any German women ... interceding
Kate Forsyth
This powerful and heart-rending book draws on many different memoirs, diaries, letters and post-war interviews to give us an extraordinary insight into what it was like to be a Jew in Germany during the Nazi years. It shows how the many small humiliations and unkindnesses of the early years gradually began to drag the Jewish community inexorably towards the horror of the Holocaust, and gives a sense of how that horror continues to shadow those that survived.
Jul 07, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In her book Between Dignity and Despair, Marion Kaplan contends that standard histories of the Nazi Era and the plight of Europe's Jewish population too often focus on the perpetrators and their mechanistic approach to mass murder. What is lost is an accurate representation of the victims, how they responded to the violence perpetrated against them, and ultimately, how they had to come to terms with the implementation of the “Final Solution.” Kaplan's goal is to bring the lives of the Jewish vic
Feb 28, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really interesting because it gave a bit of a different perspective on the holocaust. I enjoyed reading and learning about the experiences of Jewish women and children, and the different gender roles for Germans and Jews.
Xavier Frappier
Oct 05, 2016 Xavier Frappier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Between Dignity and Despair by Marion A. Kaplan is a book about the Jewish people and how they survived in various ways when the Nazi party came to power. The author's purpose in this book was to explain and show the reader how the Jewish people had to change to survive in World War 2 and some of the events leading up to it. This book also shows the reader how war can change the roles of people. For example Jewish women were discriminated against more so they were more eager to face uncertaintie
Margaret Reynolds
Marion A. Kaplan's purpose for writing Between Dignity and Despair was to inform the public about the average Jewish person's life in Nazi Germany. She tells stories of daily events in Jewish life. For example, she writes of Elizabeth Bab getting evicted from her apartment for her religion. The landlady said she "found an Aryan doctor who seemed more secure as a tenant than a Jewish writer." She writes about the prejudices they had to face in every day life.

The theme of this book is based aroun
Shane Avery

gender matters -- Jewish men were more reluctant to emigrate than were the women, since the former were more integrated in the public sphere (and committed to German (Liberal) culture), and the latter better able to observe the thousand pinpricks, that is, the incremental nature of Nazi violence and discrimination which penetrated ordinary every day life;

a social death preceded the physical death -- and in terms of social death, the majority of Germans were rampantly anti-semetic and henc
This would have been better, but I was just getting sick of all the facts that were thrown at me. They were worked in really well, but I just didn't want to hear just straight facts anymore. I also was getting sick of this book because my professor was making us read it in so many days and it was too difficult to read in that amount of time. A lot of things were repeated multiple times, which was good but bad at the same time. This gave a good background of the life in Nazi Germany, but it would ...more
Cynthia Ronquillo
This book is an in depth arrangement of short individual stories from the events that lead up to the Third Reich's "Final Solution". This book is very gripping, as are the stories held within it. It gives the reader a near-first-hand look into the life in the Third Reich with facts, some terminology and first hand accounts of Jewish life in Nazi Germany. I highly recommend this.
May 05, 2013 Stacie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books-read
Kaplan is brilliant - the additional historical information she provides and the multi-dimensional perspective is incredibly valuable. If you were restricted to reading only two books about the interwar and holocaust periods, Wassertein's "On the Eve" and Kaplan's "Between Dignity & Despair" are the two to read.
Ryan Bradford
Dec 12, 2016 Ryan Bradford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and terrifying. A steady, bulldozing study of the tiny adversities that Jews faced during the pre-war years, which developed into full-on atrocities leading up to and during the Holocaust. Lots of parallels to what we're seeing in the news during Trump's ascent to power.

It gets a little text-booky at some points, a little cumbersome. But otherwise: required reading.
Hayden Herfurth
Feb 05, 2015 Hayden Herfurth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: undergraduate
This was one of the best scholarly books I have read to date. Kaplan does an excellent job of using statistics, stories, and facts in a way that makes the reading flow and draws the reader in. Kaplan doesn't skimp on the details of some of the most depressing and heart wrenching stories and situations, but her work is still excellent.
Dec 09, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important read for gathering information about the influence of gender in the Holocaust. Kaplan expertly weaves all major events and themes into an intimate look into the lives and thought processes of Jewish women.
Nov 12, 2013 Chelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kaplan focuses on Jewish life in Nazi Germany from the time Hitler gains power through the end of the war. She focuses on how the roles of women especially middle class Jewish women had to change during the Third Reich. Excellent read.
Jan 23, 2016 Coral rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1/6 completed.
I didn't think that this would have been the first of the 6 completed for my Holocaust history class, but it was much more interesting than I thought it would be at the beginning of the semester.
Sep 26, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
I thought this book was fairly interesting. It was interesting to read specifically about how Jewish women in Nazi Germany were affected by the persecutions and roundups and so on in terms of the economy, society and expectations from gender roles at the time.
Jul 14, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent history of everyday life
Jan 26, 2008 cassie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking first-hand accounts of everyday life in Nazi Germany.
Bernie Davis
Sep 03, 2011 Bernie Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent - highly recommended.
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