Nazi Laws and Jewish Lives
Letters from Vienna
AUTHOR: Kurzweil, Edith
PUBLISHER: Transaction Publishers
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Although the period leading up to the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews has been well recorded, few sources convey the incremental effect of specific decrees aimed to dehumanize the Jews who were caught in Hitler's net, and how their everyday lives were transformed. These letters, written by Malvina Fischer to her daughter Mimi Weisz, have been translated and edited by her granddaughter Edith Kurzweil. They convey with vivid immediacy the fears and premonitions, the ghettoization and escape attempts that were the common experience of Viennese and German Jews in the years preceding the implementation of the "Final Solution."
In the first section of the volume, Kurzweil establishes the personal and political contexts of the letters (written between April 6, 1940 and December 1941, when Malvina Fischer and her family were deported) and links them to the then emerging "Jewish laws." The second section contains the letters themselves and documents the throttling grip in which the authorities held every Viennese Jew who had not managed to escape. The third section consists of translations of official summaries of the relevant laws, ordinances, and edicts--many of them marked "secret"--which inexorably determined that Kurzweil's family become part of the "final solution." From these letters and documents we become aware, also, of the profusion of legal entities dealing with Jews, the rivalries among them, and the free-floating dimensions of victims' fear and dread.
Because the letters are full of allusions rather than straightforward information, and characterized by self-censorship, Edith Kurzweil has annotated them and inserted the relevant numbers of the specific laws as these were being applied.
PUBLICATION DATE: 8/19/2004