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The Journal of Holocaust Research

Michal Shaul / Haredi Holocaust Survivors Confront Their Survival:

An Examination of Prefaces to Rabbinical Works

This article examines various mechanisms utilized by haredi Holocaust survivors to confront the destruction of their personal and social worlds, and the fact of their survival. Intriguing answers, both individual and societal, to the tormenting questions of theodicy and of their survival are alluded to, or voiced explicitly, in the prefaces to rabbinical works composed by haredi Holocaust survivors. These prefaces, which are not independent works, contain both memoirs and intellectual-philosophical reflection on the Holocaust. This oeuvre is an inseparable part of the autobiographical material written by haredi both before, and especially
after, the Holocaust. This article traces the transformation of the passive stance, fueled by guilt feelings, to
constructive, energetic activity, in accord with each survivorʼs perception of the victims' last will. It also examines aspects of the philosophy of history as exhibited by rabbinical memoir literature. Finally, an initial comparison is drawn between this literature and Holocaust memoirs written in Israel from 1945 to the late 1960s, a crucial period in the shaping of the memory of the Holocaust in Israel and in the West.

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