Buy Used
Used - Very Good See details
Price: 1.97

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Shetl: The History of A Small Town and an Extinguished World [Paperback]

Eva Hoffman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Book Description

28 Jan 1999
The shtetl was a unique micro-society with its own customs, beliefs and rituals, its own social distinctions, organisation and civic structures. It was also a long and fascinating experiment in multiculturalism, cut short by the Holocaust. Before World War II, Bransk, in eastern Poland, was a shtetl whose population was equally divided between Poles and Jews. Today there are no Jews left in Bransk. In SHTETL, Eva Hoffman explores the culture and institutions of Polish Jews, and by probing the deep ambivalence that coloured relations between Poles and Jews on the eve of World War II, SHTETL throws new light on motives which influenced Christian villagers' descisions to rescue or betray their Jewish neighbours when the Nazis invaded. Hoffman brings a penetrating intelligence and compassionate eye to a history that is fraught with intensely private emotions and profound implications for humanity.

Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (28 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099274825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099274827
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,403,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Most of the German extermination camps were built on Polish soil, and there has been a tendency on the part of historians of the Holocaust to assume a simple model whereby traditional Polish anti-Semitism led to Polish complicity. As Eva Hoffman's parents, Polish Jews who survived, found out, it took the help of many benevolent gentiles for a Jew to survive; you only needed one betrayer to die. This account of the complex relationship between Poles and Jews and in particular of the typical small mixed town of Bransk, stresses the fact that for most of its history, Poland was the least anti-Semitic of European states; in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Jewish refugees flocked there and prospered--and if their relationship with their neighbours was distant and prickly, it was no worse than that. Jews and Poles suffered equally when Poland was partitioned by its ruthless neighbours; it took 20th- century nationalism and elements within Catholicism to institutionalise anti-Semitism in a newly independent Poland. Eva Hoffmann's Shtetl account pulls no punches, but is the book of a woman as proud of her Polish roots as of her Jewish ones; this is a useful history and a tribute to the role of memory.--Roz Kaveney

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

Customer Reviews

3 star
2 star
1 star
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A thought provoking and well balanced examination of the relationship of two peoples (Catholics and Jews)sharing one country but maintaining very separate identities. This book eloquently tells of the failings, fears, and historical interdependence that both sides are often unwilling or unable to admit, both to themselves and to each other. The author seeks to provide some possible reasons why the paradoxical feelings of mistrust and hatred and familiarity and kinship grew between the groups throughout history. I originally picked up this book for personal reasons: I am the daughter of a Polish Jew. My father was forced to flee Poland with his family after escaping from the Majdanek concentration camp and then again on their return to Poland after the war due to anti-Jewish feeling (and the murder of an uncle during the Kielce pogrom). My father spent his first 11 years as a refugee, an experience which has left a lifelong imprint on both he and his children. It is obvious from meeting other Polish Jews that the hurt from loss of home and history remains. This book does a good job in explaining the causes of the continuing distrust between Polish Catholic and Jew, even more than half a century after the Holocaust, but it does leave the reader with the feeling that the author herself remains sceptical of any real change in opinion taking place by either Catholic or Jew. Although it offers no formal solutions, it does open the topic for clear headed discussion. I will be recommending this book to my father, to my boyfriend (whose mother is a Protestant Pole),and to Polish (Catholic) friends as well.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insight into a Vanished World 25 Mar 2012
"Shtetl" is a recommended read for anyone interested in an unbiased account of Jewish life in Eastern Europe upto the early 20th century.

This is an immensely readable and insightful account of a life shared together by different ethnic groups - Jews, Poles and others, but at the same time apart in a Poland that is long gone.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully educating look into the history of Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine 8 Mar 2010
By L. Angert - Published on
As one who came to this book with a realistic understanding of Jewish life in the shtetls of eastern Europe, I was delighted by the wealth of new information gathered by Hoffman and her admirable Polish guide. The historical background concerning the earliest settlement of the Jewish population in the region set the stage for her presentation of the political and economic life in the region throughout the 18th - 20th centuries, especially as it impacted Jews and their gentile neighbors. Hoffman brought the skills of both an historian and and interviewer to the book. Combining that with the apparently honest and candid information that her native collaborator was given by the local population, Hoffman's history has the positive air of authenticity and accuracy.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Broad, Generally Objective Overview of Shared Polish-Jewish History 19 Dec 2010
By Jan Peczkis - Published on
Hoffman traces the experience of Jews in pre-modern Poland, partitioned Poland, the Second Republic, WWII, and the immediate postwar period. There is a wealth of information presented in this volume, and I focus on only a few matters. Without doubt, this book is much more objective than Marian Marzynski's rather anti-Polish SHTETL.

After the Partitions, and particularly as the 19th century wore on, Jewish and Polish political interests increasingly diverged. Consider the situation in Russian-ruled eastern Poland: "In fact, Jewish attitudes towards tsarist rule were mixed. In contrast with the Poles, Jewish communities basically accepted the legitimacy of the Russian government, even though they may have bridled against some of its policies." (p. 117). Hoffman sees the later Litvak Jewish immigrants as not so much a force of Russification, as a significant source of pro-Russian political orientation as well as radical-left sentiment (p. 137).

By the time of the resurrection of the Polish state in 1918, the Polish-Jewish gulf had grown large. Polish Jews wanted not only civil rights, but, in contrast to western European Jews, also minority rights (p. 164). [In modern parlance, this would be called special rights. They would, in effect, make the Jews into a nation-within-nation in Poland.] Not surprisingly, this led to overt separatism. Hoffman writes: "In Bialystok, representatives of the Jewish community proposed that the city and surrounding region should become part of Lithuania rather than Poland, because this would put Jews in a better numerical position. The suggestion was met with outrage by Polish politicians." (p. 164). During the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920, Jewish loyalties were ephemeral. Hoffman remarks: "According to the Yizkor Book, views were divided between those who sided unequivocally with the Polish cause, and others who felt that Bransk did not really belong to Poland, and therefore should not be required to supply soldiers to the Polish army." (p. 165)

Much has been said about prewar violence against Polish Jews, but little about internecine Jewish violence. Hoffman comments: "The factions quarreled, splintered, and accused each other of betrayal and Jewish anti-Semitism. Not infrequently, members of competing parties disrupted each other's meetings and got into bloody street brawls." (p. 179; see also pp. 180-181).

Most Bransk-area Jews were murdered by the Germans at Treblinka. Those Jews who managed to flee the ghettos not only faced the danger of betrayal by Poles, but also betrayal by other Jews (pp. 224-225). In fact, two of Hoffman's fugitive relatives perished as a result of a Jew who led the Germans to their hiding place (p. 6).

The small percentage of Jews saved owes to the rarity of Jews who escaped the ghettos. Furthermore, Hoffman remarks: "The Yizkor Book records several instances in which Jews refused help offered to them by Poles, because they did not want to abandon the others." (p. 223).

Hoffman recognizes the fact (p. 2) that the Germans' choice of occupied Poland as the site of the death camps had nothing to do with actual or presumed Polish attitudes towards Jews. She is also open-minded to the possibility that the Kielce Pogrom had been a Soviet-staged event (p. 249).
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category