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Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War

Dr Gerben Zaagsma (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)



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Bloomsbury Academic
01 November 2018
Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War discusses the participation of volunteers of Jewish descent in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, focusing particularly on the establishment of the Naftali Botwin Company, a Jewish military unit that was created in the Polish Dombrowski Brigade.

Gerben Zaagsma analyses the symbolic meaning of the participation of Jewish volunteers and the Botwin Company both during and after the civil war. He puts this participation in the broader context of Jewish involvement in the left and Jewish/non-Jewish relations in the communist movement and beyond. To this end, the book examines representations of Jewish volunteers in the Parisian Yiddish press (both communist and non-communist).

In addition, it analyses the various ways in which Jewish volunteers and the Botwin Company have been commemorated after WWII, tracing how discourses about Jewish volunteers became decisively shaped by post-Holocaust debates on Jewish responses to fascism and Nazism, and discusses claims that Jewish volunteers can be seen as 'the first Jews to resist Hitler with arms'.
By:   Dr Gerben Zaagsma (University of Luxembourg Luxembourg)
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Academic
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm, 
Weight:   376g
ISBN:   9781350090064
ISBN 10:   1350090069
Series:   War, Culture and Society
Pages:   264
Publication Date:   01 November 2018
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Gerben Zaagsma is Senior Researcher and Head of the Research Area Digital History & Historiography at the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C(2)DH) at the University of Luxembourg.

Reviews for Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War

Jewish Volunteers offers valuable insights for a variety of historical specialists ... Zaagsma has produced a readable and well-argued account, providing the reader with an engaging analysis of the formation of a Jewish company during the Spanish Civil War, and its interpretation and reinterpretation in popular memory during the remainder of the twentieth century. * H-War * This is probably the best book on Jewish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War published in recent years. * European History Quarterly * The book makes an immensely valuable contribution to our understanding of Jewish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War in general and especially their contemporary and later representation. It also opens up new questions for future scholarly works on both the Jewish context and the International Brigades in general. This is an important work that will encourage further research and contributes to the rethinking of some key aspects of both the Spanish Civil War and Jewish involvement in the radical Left. * European Review of History * [The] discussions of the origins and permutations of the Botwin Company myths are fascinating ... This accessible book usefully clarifies the processes of appropriation and the evolution of European Jewishness in the shadow of the impending Holocaust ... [The] insights into the links between history and legend make it deserving of a wide readership. * Michigan War Studies Review * Gerben Zaagsma has produced a superb study of a vital dimension of modern Jewish and European history - the engagement of a core group of Jewish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. This fascinating book provides a penetrating analysis of Jews' politicized military activity in the context of the multi-layered, long and short-term symbolic significance of their efforts. It is Jewish and transnational history at its finest, focused on Yiddish-speaking Polish Jews from Paris, confronting fascism in order to support what they believed to be a universal, humanitarian cause. * Michael Berkowitz, Professor of Modern Jewish History, University College London, UK * Gerben Zaagsma's book will become the standard work on the participation of Jews in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Meticulously researched and broadly focused, the book makes important contributions to the history of the Jewish Left and the politics of commemoration in the twentieth century. * Derek Penslar, Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History, University of Toronto, Canada * Zaagma's book unpeels and analyses the complex motivations, both political and psychological, for this belated recognition. His revelations strengthen the meaning of La Pasionaria's words to them on leaving Spain: You are legend. You are history . * Times Literary Supplement *

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