Life between Memory and Hope

The Survivors of the Holocaust in Occupied Germany

Life between Memory and Hope

The 250,000 survivors of the Holocaust who converged on the American Zone of Occupied Germany from 1945-1948 rose to brief prominence in the immediate post-war years. They envisaged themselves as the living bridge between destruction and rebirth, the last remnants of a world destroyed and the active agents of its return to life. Much of what has been written to date looks at the Surviving Remnant through the eyes of others and thus has often failed to disclose the tragic complexity of their inner lives together with their remarkable political achievements. Zeev W. Mankowitz concentrates on this community of survivors, its people, movements, ideas, institutions and self-understanding, how it grappled with the unbearable weight of the past, the strains of the present and the challenge of the future. These ordinary people lived through experiences that beggar description. In most cases they had lost everyone and everything and were now condemned to a protracted and debilitating stay amidst grim conditions in the land of their oppressors. Yet, they got on with their lives, they married, had children and worked for a better tomorrow. By and large, they did not surrender to the deformities of suffering and somehow managed to preserve their humanity intact. This is the story Mankowitz tells in Life between Memory and Hope. Over the last two decades Dr. Zeev Mankowitz has divided his time between Holocaust research and the training of educational leaders. His celebrated lectures on Issues in the Study of the Holocaust at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has drawn thousands of students from all over the world. In his latest project he is seeking to understand the relationship between history and memory and its implications for educational practice. This is his first book.


"Zeev W. Mankowitz's study of the She'erith Hapleitah ia a major contribution to our understanding of the survivors during the immediate years after liberation. Based on exhaustive archival research, this work places the community of survivors at the center, exploring the "inner life" of its members. Focusing on the East European Jews in the DP camps of the American zone in Germany, Mankowitz shows how the survivors themselves chose a future of renewal by "voting for Palestine with their feet," and by seeing reaffirmation of life as a lesson of the Holocaust, something Yishuv and diaspora would not discover until decades later. With this study Mankowitz has forever banished the traditional picture of the survivors as a traumatized and manipulated group, replacing it with an accurate account of how the She'erith Hapleitah helped to create the state of Israel and contributed to the victory of Zionism in the diaspora." Henry Friedlander

"In this highly detailed and important contribution to postwar Jewish history, Mankowitz details the extraordinarily resilient spirit of the She'erith Hapleitah.... a sensitive and persuasive assessment... Highly recommended." Choice

"A compelling achievement that will enrich immeasurably our comprehension of the Holocaust and its aftermath. It is vital for understanding not only the Holocaust, but also postwar Europe--as the DP phenomenon was far from short-lived--and the complex relationship between Europe, Palestine, and modern Israel." H-GERMAN

"This one-person effort, demonstrably a life-long work, brings the she-erit hapeleitah era into the scholarly universe inabited by the Holocaust itself on one side and the establishment of the state in the wake of the catastrophe on the other. [Mankowitz] defines it for Jewish historical consciousness and sets the standard for measuring future research." Shofar, Gershon Greenberg

" extraordinary account..." Paper Clips