On the Margins
Essays on the History of Jews in Estonia
Estonia is perhaps the only country in Europe that lacks a comprehensive history of its Jewish minority. Spanning over 150 years of Estonian Jewish history, "On the Margins" is a truly unique book. Rebuilding a life beyond so-called Pale of Jewish Settlement in the Russian Empire, the Jewish cultural autonomy in interwar Estonia, and the trauma of Soviet occupation of 1940–41 are among the issues addressed in the book but most profoundly, the book wrestles with the subject of the Holocaust and its legacy in Estonia.
Specifically, it examines the quasi-legal system of murder instituted in Nazi-occupied Estonia, confiscation of Jewish property, and Jewish forced labor camps and develops an analysis of the causes of collaboration during the Holocaust. The book also explores the dynamics of war crimes trials in the Soviet Union since the 1960s and so-called denaturalization trials in the United States in the 1980s. The haunting memory of Soviet and Nazi rule, the book concludes, prevents a larger segment of today's Estonian population from facing up to the Holocaust and the universal message that it carries.
About the Author
"Anton Weiss-Wendt provides us with a fascinating and important examination of the Holocaust in Estonia and, crucially, Jewish life before the war. Two decades of research inform this original contribution to Estonian and Jewish history. His judicious and meticulous documentation provide needed perspective to a heated and contentious topic. Yet the work is anything but dry—Weiss-Wendt writes as fluidly and compellingly about the broader geopolitics of the region as he does the individual lives affected by the tragic history of the region. The exceptional depth achieved in this volume provides a model for scholarship . . . and will be of broad interest to researchers of both Jewish and Holocaust history generally."—Doyle E. Stevick
"In the context of Jewish history, Estonia long had an image of a haven for anybody who thought differently. The book by Weiss-Wendt challenges this conventional stereotype. It tells a sad story of a tiny and exotic ethnic group, the Jews, who Estonians bestowed minority rights on in the interwar period, helped to exterminate during the Holocaust, marginalized in the post-war period, and vilified in the post-1991 Estonia. The author of the book made an effort to reclaim the memory of the Estonian Jews from the realm of the exotic. This book reads like a warning: it suggests that a people who marginalize a minority and the memory of that minority might themselves be easily marginalized as exotic and insignificant."—Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern
Other Titles in HISTORY / Holocaust
Other Titles in Jewish studies