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Title: The 'Jewish Councils' of Western Europe : a comparative analysis
Author: Vastenhout, Laurien
ISNI:       0000 0004 8506 5793
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis investigates the form and function of the Jewish representative organisations of western Europe during the Nazi occupation from a comparative perspective: the Dutch Joodsche Raad voor Amsterdam (JR), the Belgian Association des Juifs en Belgique (AJB) and the French Union Générale des Israélites de France (UGIF). It is the first study in which the three organisations are fully compared and contrasted. The aim in doing so is to move away from the inherently moral approach that has been taken towards their study. Methodologically, this thesis extends beyond individual national contexts within which these organisations have been scrutinised as isolated examples. Instead, it highlights their transnational nature, and shows that it is impossible to assess these Jewish organisations without understanding the broader western European context in which they were forced to operate. Three themes are investigated: the organisations' socio-historical foundations, their organisational structures and their connection to illegal networks. First, the thesis looks at those men who went on to become chairmen of the JR, the AJB and the UGIF between 1941 and 1943/1944. It examines how their status in the prewar Jewish communities affected their wartime position and the nature of their leadership. This, in turn, had an impact on the extent to which they were accepted by Jewish communities. Second, the thesis shows that the history of how the Jewish organisations' were established as well as ways in which they functioned, means that the Germans did not have a clear plan about what the remit of these organisations was supposed to be. As a result, the organisations' leaders relied strongly upon ad hoc decisions. Third, the thesis reflects upon the various ways in which the organisations were used as cloaks for clandestine activities and also highlights the participation of some of the central board members in these activities. It argues that the Jewish organisations facilitated clandestine activities and that these would not have been possible without their existence. The assessment of these themes contributes to a more inclusive perspective, in which the function of the JR, the AJB and the UGIF is considered within the broader themes of Jewish representation and the nature of the National-Socialist regime.
Supervisor: Moore, Bob ; Lee, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available