The Jews Of Warsaw 1939-1943
The Jews Of Warsaw is unequivocally the best overall history of the Warsaw Ghetto during WW2 that I have read. I wish there were more books like this one and I wish more researchers used this book although it seems hard to find for some odd reason. The edition I have was published by University of Indiana and I am hoping they keep it in print.
The book is authored by the former Yad Vashem leading researcher, Yisrael Gutman, who was in the Warsaw Ghetto. Yet, nowhere on a single page will you find a personal incident in this book. Only if you research him or the book jacket cover will you discover he was there. He steps back and divorces himself, best one can, from his personal experience there.
Rather, Gutman's approach is that of a historian and it pays off in massive dividends. He starts with how the Ghetto came to be, who was in there and when they arrived, how the layout came to be and how people adapted. On interesting fact that is often overlook which Gutman refers to is that there were non-Jews confined to the Ghetto for a variety of reasons and they not only struggled with the Germans but often with Jewish groups.
You will find details that never get talked about in a class like how food was smuggled in and how the S.S. initially planned to starve the Ghetto on less than 200 calories a day. (Put that soda down! That is a Ghetto resident's daily intake!). Gutman puts daily life in the Ghetto in terms the reader can relate.
He goes into the shops which were vital to the history of the Ghetto - and the German war machine - and how they evolved. Then there is the lice. Lice was everywhere and so was the typhus that they carried.
There is talk of Jewish Police, Blue Boots (Polish Police), the Judenrat, the 13, the Z.O.B., Z.Z.W., and all the political forces in play inside those walls and out. And of course there are the youth groups which eventually formed the backbone of the resistance.
The city that was the Ghetto (and its relationship with the Aryan side is discussed in detail) comes alive in these pages. The ghetto is no longer a distant blight in the annuals of the war but rather a living, breathing, extension of humanity when reading this book.
I can't say enough about this work. If you want to know about Warsaw, Ghetto life, the Ghetto Rebellion, any of it! - then this is the book you should find. I got my copy (looks like new) off of Abebooks. Gutman's study of the Warsaw Ghetto rates a strong 5 out of 5 on my review scale.