Cover: Bitter Reckoning: Israel Tries Holocaust Survivors as Nazi Collaborators, from Harvard University PressCover: Bitter Reckoning in HARDCOVER

Bitter Reckoning

Israel Tries Holocaust Survivors as Nazi Collaborators

Product Details


$29.95 • £26.95 • €27.95

ISBN 9780674988149

Publication Date: 10/15/2019


288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

14 photos

Belknap Press


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In this revelatory and at times astonishing book, the historian Dan Porat analyses the hitherto inaccessible transcripts of 40 kapo trials that were held in Israel over the course of two decades… And yet, 40 years later, only the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, chief Nazi architect of the Final Solution, is ever discussed. Bitter Reckoning interrogates this cultural amnesia and asks why it is that Israel no longer calls to account the actions of Jewish functionaries within the camps.—Giulia Miller, Times Higher Education

The largely forgotten history of these trials has pivotal importance for our changing sense of what it meant to be a Jew during the Holocaust, as Dan Porat makes clear in his insightful, eloquently written new book.—David Mikics, The Tablet

Porat raises profound moral questions about complicity, justice and victimhood. Bitter Reckoning makes an important, and perhaps pivotal, contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust. Porat documents the changing views of Israelis about alleged collaborators.—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Jerusalem Post

Masterful… The real beauty of this book is how Israeli society gradually came to different conclusions as to the guilt or complicity of those standing trial, choosing, ultimately, not to stand in judgment over men and women in impossible situations… An essential guide to understanding the torments of the young state of Israel and, in the process, adds to our sum of knowledge about the Holocaust.—Jenni Frazer, Jewish Chronicle

Porat’s writing is smooth and deliberate, delivered with integrity. His analysis of prosecutor and judicial motivations, especially within the trial records kept by judges and justices, is masterful… The extensive research by Porat lends considerable weight to why the Israeli criminal justice system was a poor choice as a vehicle of justice in this circumstance.—Charles S. Weinblatt, New York Journal of Books

Gripping… Porat puts these trials into a broader framework, analyzing the changes in Israeli attitudes to Shoah survivors over the years.—Martin Lockshin, Canadian Jewish News

Porat’s analysis of the ‘Kapo trials’ in Israel between 1950 and 1972 is critical for scholars interested in Holocaust justice, Jewish Holocaust testimony, and myths of postwar ‘silence’ concerning the Holocaust.—Norman J. W. Goda, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

An exploration of Holocaust survivors who collaborated with the Nazis… Fills in some gaps in the Holocaust literature.Kirkus Reviews

A superb, meticulously researched work of historical empathy. The fullest, most intelligent exploration I’ve read of what Primo Levi termed ‘the gray zone,’ and the improbability of moral, let alone legal, clarity for those found to have been inside of it.—Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Pogrom

In this riveting book Dan Porat offers a new and stunning perspective on Israel’s tormented encounter with the legacy of the Holocaust and some of its survivors. It is not necessary to share Porat’s opinions in order to respect his intellectual integrity, compassion, and masterly writing.—Tom Segev, author of A State at Any Cost

Porat’s account of Israel’s kapo trials offers the first general history of these largely forgotten proceedings. He offers a persuasive, well-researched, and cogent history of the trials, situated in the context of postwar Jewish and Israeli life.—Devin Pendas, author of The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963–1965

Skillfully weaving together courtroom drama with the politics, press, and public opinion of the time, Porat takes us to the gray area between perpetrator and victim and leaves us with a wealth of knowledge, important insights, and much to think about.—Joshua Schoffman, former Deputy Attorney General, Israeli Ministry of Justice

A fascinating account of an important episode in Israeli history and post-Holocaust justice. Porat provides a lucid and well-documented reconstruction and analysis of the political arguments and evolution of judicial practice over three decades.—Omer Bartov, author of Anatomy of a Genocide

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