The Unorthodox View of Jewish History in the German Democratic Republic
Helmut Eschwege is the German Democratic Republic’s major authority on modern Jewish history. In 1966 he edited Kennzeichen J: Bilder, Dokumente, Berichte zur Geschichte der Verbrechen des Hitlerfaschismus an den deutschen Juden, (East Berlin), the first comprehensive documentation of the destruction of German Jewry under Hitler to be published in the GDR. When, in the late 1960s, Eschwege’s study of the German Jewish anti-Fascist Resistance was rejected for publication in his own country, he sent it on to the Leo Baeck Institute in London. It was published in a shortened form in English in the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, Vol. XV (1970) under the title ‘Resistance of German Jews against the Nazi Regime’ (pp. 143–80)1. This work was later elaborated, refined and published in German as a book co-authored with Konrad Kwiet, Selbstbehauptung und Widerstand: Deutsche Juden im Kampf um Existenz und Menschenwürde 1933–1945 (Hans Christians Verlag, Hamburg, 1984). Eschwege’s other major work is Die Synagoge in der deutschen Geschichte: Eine Dokumentation (Dresden, 1980).
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