RESOURCE: New issue of Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust, 31-1, December 2016

Michal Aharony's picture


New issue of Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust, 31-1, December 2016

Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust Volume 31, Issue 1

Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust, is the inter-disciplinary academic journal of the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research. Dapim is devoted to the inter-disciplinary study of the Holocaust, the Second World War and antisemitism.  Scholars from around the world contribute to this journal, and we are excited to share our most recent issue with you.

The Living Dead of George Romero and Steven Spielberg: America, the Holocaust and the Figure of the Zombie
By William Graebner

Recent scholarship has demonstrated that there was no postwar communal culture of silence among American Jews with regard to the Holocaust. Nonetheless, Americans, and Hollywood’s filmmakers, were reluctant to engage and present the most horrific aspects of the Nazi death camps, including the barbarous treatment of camp inmates and the obscenities of the gas chambers, unmarked mass graves and incineration. By the late 1960s, however, a subset of Americans was beginning to come to terms with the traumatic memory of the Holocaust in a most unusual, indirect way: through films about zombies, the ‘living dead’ of cinema, featured in George Romero’s now-famous trilogy – Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) – and, less obviously, in Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist (1982). Romero’s zombie – lacking emotion and affect as well as consciousness, locked in a present bereft of past and future, driven by the most primitive instincts of survival – resembles the Muselmänner, the ‘living dead’ of the concentration camps, existing in the state that Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls ‘bare life.’ The Romero trilogy and Poltergeist also deal significantly with how zombies – and, by analogy, camp inmates, are treated in ‘life’ and in death. Both are victims: victims, for Spielberg, of desecration, their graves ignored or destroyed at the whim of a real-estate developer; victims, for Romero, of a shocking disregard for human dignity, and blatant disregard, too, for the traditions and rituals associated with death, including a proper burial and the naming of the dead.

The Jewish Women at the Union Factory, Auschwitz 1944:
Resistance, Courage, and Tragedy.
By Ronnen Harran

On 5 January 1945, four Jewish female prisoners were executed by hanging in Auschwitz. They were charged with stealing gunpowder from the ‘Union’ munitions factory, where they were force-labored, and smuggling it to the prisoners of the Sonderkommando at the nearby camp of Birkenau, who mutinied three months earlier, on 7 October 1944. This paper delves into the details surrounding the uprising of the Sonderkommando: it traces the preceding events, namely, the establishment and activity of the underground network for the smuggling of gunpowder, and then it delineates the German investigation following the uprising, which led to the imprisonment and execution of the four Jewish women. This paper presents several main results. First, contrary to common knowledge, the four women who were executed were not alone in the smuggling activity: no less than 30 Jewish female prisoners participated in the gunpowder smuggling, carried out in secrecy during a period of about 7 months. Regarding the investigation that followed the uprising, this paper reexamines two distinct, yet credible narratives concerning the circumstances that led to the arrest of the four women. It determines that both are valid, non-contradictory, but rather complement one another. Perhaps the most important finding is uncovering the reason for which the four women were accused of smuggling gunpowder: camp authorities chose to regard the proven smuggling as an act of sabotage. Thus, these women paid with their lives for the widespread sabotage that was commonplace at the ‘Union’ factory, which the camp authorities failed to uncover and prevent. The four women were hanged in order to terrorize the laborers at the ‘Union’, so as to prevent further acts of sabotage, and to demonstrate to higher echelons of the SS and the army that they are determined to put an end to sabotage once and for all.

What Do We Know about the Deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Bobruisk and Smolensk in the Spring and Summer of 1942?
By Lea Prais

With their occupation of territories of the USSR the Germans needed to establish a central supply base for the Waffen-SS in central and southern Russia for the group of armies that were operating there. For this purpose at the beginning of 1942 they set up, a central supply base in the forest (a Waldlager) close to the village of Kissyelevichi, eight kilometers southeast of the city of Bobruysk in an area that was under military administration. In mid-September 1943, the Jewish camp was liquidated (although the military camp continued to function, mainly as a base for actions against the local partisan fighters). At that time about 90 Jewish prisoners remained alive. They were transferred first to Minsk and, then, about a week later to the Lublin District, where they were dispersed among several concentration camps. In addition to the deportation to Bobruysk in July 1942 and its rapidly fatal results, 500 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were deported to the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in Smolensk. In this article, I discuss the singular features of the Jewish camp at the supply base at Bobruysk, the reasons for its establishment, and the fate of the Jews incarcerated therein, and explore why, three decades after the war, it still failed to appear on the map of the camps. An additional issue I address is the fate of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto who were deported to Minsk and to Smolensk at the same time – how many were deported, when, why and what is known about them.

Find the articles online under:

Inquiries and requests to submit materials to "Dapim - Studies on the Holocaust" should be sent to

Head of the Editorial Board: Arieh Kochavi
Editors: Kobi Kabalek, Wendy Lower, Gavriel Rosenfeld
Deputy Editor: Michal Aharony