Life In Transit: Jews in Postwar Lodz, 1945-1950

Life In Transit: Jews in Postwar Lodz, 1945-1950

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Shimon Redlich

Series: Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and History
ISBN: 9781936235216 (hardcover)
Pages: 282 pp.
Publication Date: February 2011

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Life in Transit is the long-awaited sequel to Shimon Redlich’s widely acclaimed Together and Apart in Brzezany, in which he discussed his childhood during the War and the Holocaust. Life in Transit tells the story of his adolescence in the city of Lodz in postwar Poland. Redlich’s personal memories are placed within the wider historical context of Jewish life in Poland and in Lodz during the immediate postwar years. Lodz in the years 1945-1950 was the second-largest city in the country and the major urban center of the Jewish population. Redlich’s research based on conventional sources and numerous interviews indicates that although the survivors still lived in the shadow of the Holocaust, postwar Jewish Lodz was permeated with a sense of vitality and hope.

Shimon Redlich, a child survivor of the Holocaust, was born in Lwow in 1935 and lived in nearby Brzezany until 1945, when he was repatriated to Lodz. He left Poland for Israel in 1950. He studied at Hebrew University, Harvard, and New York University. He taught History at Ben-Gurion University for close to forty years. Redlich has written numerous books and articles on the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe.


Life in Transit is populated by living, breathing people—rendered unfiltered by Redlich—who, in the shadow of the Holocaust, evinced a tremendous will to live. . . . [T]he distinctive contribution of Life in Transit is its emphasis, as shown through the lens of the remarkable Lodz Jewish community, on the vitality of the remaining remnant. Far from being dispirited, demoralized, or helpless, these Jews were protagonists both in their own survival during the Holocaust and in the rebirth of Jewry in its aftermath. In portraying this community—and, in so doing, revising the predominant historiographical reconstruction of postwar Polish Jewry—Redlich has produced a wondrous book.
— Gabriel N. Finder (University of Virginia), Studies in Contemporary Jewry, vol. 27, The Social Scientific Study of Jewry
This book is both a moving personal account of childhood in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust and a highly valuable account of Jewish life in Lodz in the early postwar years. Chronologically following in the footsteps of Redlich’s extraordinary study of the town of Brzezany in Eastern Galicia during the German occupation, Life in Transit is filled with important insights into the identity of Jewish survivors, their varying wartime experiences and stories of survival, and, not least, the education of a new generation of child survivors, who in large part went on to build new lives for themselves across the globe. This book is certain to become essential reading for all those interested in life after genocide.
— Omer Bartov, Brown University, and author of Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine
This remarkable combination of memoir and history is a continuation of the prize-winning book Together and Apart in Brezany: Poles, Jews and Ukrainians, 1919-1945 (Bloomington, 2002), which described the author’s experiences as a boy before and during the Second World War. Life in Transit depicts his emigration with his family after the war to the largely undamaged town of Lodz, then the principal concentration of Jews in Poland. It provides a moving picture both of this community’s attempt to rebuild the shattered world of Polish Jewry and of the author’s own experiences as he came gradually to see that he has no future in Poland and thus decides to emigrate to Israel.
— Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University
Focusing on the city of Lodz, but with a far wider span, this is one of the most impressive books on the Holocaust and its aftermath that I have read.
— Martin Gilbert, author of The Holocaust, The Jewish Tragedy