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Catastrophe and Utopia

Jewish Intellectuals in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s

Edited by: Ferenc Laczo and Joachim von Puttkamer
Catastrophe and Utopia studies the biographical trajectories, intellectual agendas, and major accomplishments of select Jewish intellectuals during the age of Nazism, and the partly simultaneous, partly subsequent period of incipient Stalinization. By focusing on the relatively underexplored region of Central and Eastern Europe – which was the primary centre of Jewish life prior to the Holocaust, served as the main setting of the Nazi genocide, but also had notable communities of survivors – the volume offers significant contributions to a European Jewish intellectual history of the twentieth century. Approaching specific historical experiences in their diverse local contexts, the twelve case studies explore how Jewish intellectuals responded to the unprecedented catastrophe, how they renegotiated their utopian commitments and how the complex relationship between the two evolved over time. They analyze proximate Jewish reactions to the most abysmal discontinuity represented by the Judeocide while also revealing more subtle lines of continuity in Jewish thinking. Ferenc Laczó is assistant professor in History at Maastricht University and Joachim von Puttkamer is professor of Eastern European History at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and director of the Imre Kertész Kolleg.

Author Information

Ferenc Laczó, Maastricht University; Joachim von Puttkamer, Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena
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Audience: Scholars working on Jewish History, Intellectual History and the History of the Holocaust.