Dan Michman
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(4,141 words)

Judenrat (pl. Judenräte; “Jewish Council”) is the term most commonly used today for the compulsory corporate bodies that National Socialist Germany and most of its allies in the Second World War forced upon Jewish communities. At the time, other terms were also in use, primarily Ältestenrat (“Council of Elders”). It is safe to assume that the Judenräte numbered well over one thousand. As a kind of intermediary between perpetrators and victims, dilemmas accumulated in the Judenräte, with which the Jews were confronted in view of the steady intensification from persecution to annihilation; eventually, during the Shoah, they were compelled to mark out those next in line to be deported and exterminated. After the Holocaust, in academia as well as in the wider public, Judenräte were often viewed as collaborators; a more recent perspective has proposed the counter-image of a borderline situation of the previously unimaginable, deliberately brought about by Nazi rule. 

Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Cultures Online

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