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After the defeat of Germany in World War II, 140,000 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were transported to camps maintained by the Allies for displaced persons (DPs). In Waiting for Hope, historians Angelika Konigseder and Juliane Wetzel offer an administrative, social, and cultural history of the DP camps.
Starting with the discovery of Nazi death camps by Allied forces, Konigseder and Wetzel describe the inadequate preparations that had been made for the starving and sick camp survivors. The Allied soldiers were ill equipped to deal with the physical wreckage and mental anguish of their charges, but American rabbis soon arrived to perform invaluable work helping the survivors cope with grief and frustration.
Konigseder and Wetzel devote attention to autonomous Jewish life in the DP camps. Theater groups and orchestras prospered in and around the camps; Jewish newspapers began to publish; kindergartens and schools were founded; and a tuberculosis hospital and clinic for DPs was established in Bergen-Belsen. In many places there was a last flowering of shtetl life before the DPs began to scatter to Israel and other countries.
Using original documents and the work of other historians, Waiting for Hope sheds light on a largely unknown period in postwar Jewish history and shows that the suffering of the survivors did not end with the war.