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Session Submission Type: Panel Session
After World War II re-emerging Jewish communities across Europe established Jewish communal courts to investigate and, if warranted, try suspected Jewish collaborators with the Nazis. In most cases, Jewish leaders wished to assert control over these cases rather than having them tried in state courts, as they believed that it was the business of Jews to sit in judgement of fellow Jews and that only a Jewish court could render justice on internal foes. Most honor court trials determined whether the defendant had betrayed the trust of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. For Jews, the exclusion of collaborators from the international Jewish community was a precondition of sustainable communal life and the moral rehabilitation of survivor communities.
Gabriel Finder examines the case of cabaret performer Wiera Gran (1916–2007), the only woman tried in the Polish Jewish honor court who wasn’t an alleged kapo. She was suspected of close ties with the Gestapo in Warsaw Ghetto and of divulging the identities and locations of Jews in hiding. Gran was acquitted. Finder argues that the honor court functioned largely to recodify the prewar moral order and gender roles. Laura Jockusch analyzes the history of controversial trials in a Soviet military tribunal and German state courts of Stella Goldschlag (1922–1994) a German Jewish woman accused of leading the Nazis to Jews in hiding in Berlin. Jockusch uses Goldschlag’s trials to examine gendered notions of betrayal and collaboration in the cases of alleged Jewish female traitors. Jockusch argues that the courts were unable to arrive at a nuanced understanding of how the victims were forced to aid in their own communities’ destruction. Simo Muir shifts the panel’s focus to the honor court trial of a wartime Jewish male leader, Maks Szczęśliwy (1887–1962), the head of the Łódź Ghetto Food Supply Department who was accused of causing the death of thousands of ghetto inmates. Muir demonstrates how the honor court in Helsinki, which was led by Finland’s chief rabbi, differed from Jewish tribunals elsewhere in Europe.
The panel’s chair is David Slucki, Natalia Aleksiun its respondent, both experts in East European Jewry.
Gender in the Dock: The Trial of Wiera Gran in the Postwar Polish Jewish Honor Court - Gabriel Natan Finder, University of Virginia
Traitress: Jews, Gender, and the Trials of Stella Goldschlag in Postwar Germany - Laura Katharina Jockusch, Brandeis University
Rumkowski’s Scapegoat: The Honor Court Trial of Łódź Ghetto Functionary Maks Szczęśliwy in Helsinki - Simo Muir, University College London