The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police


Product Details

$35.00  $32.55
Indiana University Press
Publish Date
6.38 X 9.2 X 1.18 inches | 1.51 pounds

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About the Author

The anonymous policemen who composed this secret history were members of a Jewish police force that served in the Kovno ghetto from August 1941 until the Nazis murdered the leadership of the force in March 1944.

Samuel Schalkowsky, a survivor of the Kovno ghetto, is a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Samuel D. Kassow is Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College and author of Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (IUP, 2007).


"[A] remarkable book, The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police, provides a graphic and unparalleled description of the conditions under which the Jews of Kaunas tried to live and survive during this tragic period."

--Jewish Daily Forward

"The writers of this riveting document... were determined to provide a truly balanced history of the Jewish police as it interacted with ghetto inhabitants, the Nazi occupiers, and their Lithuanian auxiliaries.... Highly recommended. "


"The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police [is] a source not only for understanding a watershed period in Lithuanian history, the destruction of its historic Jewish population, but also as a guide for understanding Lithuanian history in the period since the end of World War II."

--The Lithuania Tribune

"Carefully and unobtrusively edited by ghetto survivor Schalkowsky, the material chronicles the removal of Kovno Jews to the ghetto, the savage beatings and rapes and thefts along the way, and the grave and brave attempts of those confined to organize and to maintain some sort of humanity in the eye of the Nazi hurricane...The detail is extraordinary, and while the authors occasionally assail their tormenters (in print), the tone is otherwise grimly, wrenchingly expository. An introduction by Samuel D. Kassow tells what happened, and there is no light whatsoever in that dark story...Amid all the unspeakable brutality, cruelty, fear, loss and despair, hope somehow lingers until the final gunshot."

--Kirkus Reviews

"Often, when reading about another episode of Holocaust horror, I instinctively pull back--I am unable to imagine myself in a similar situation. What would I do? What could I do? But I was in another place. They were there--this time, in Kovno: two groups on one side, two on the other, Jewish police and Jewish victims vs. Lithuanian partisans and German Gestapo. The Jews lost. There was never any doubt. No book I've read in recent time about the Holocaust has so moved me, evoking the utter helplessness of the Jew, the plight of the Jewish police and the cunning cruelty of the German. This is a gripping story, page by page, and it reminds us again that there but for the grace of God go we all. Read, remember and, if we can, cry."

--Marvin Kalb, Senior Advisor to the Pulitzer Center and Edward R. Murrow Professor, Emeritus, Harvard Kennedy School

"Without mentioning helping Jews leave the ghetto to join the partisans fighting the Nazis (for fear of their manuscript's discovery by the Germans), the policemen relate their struggles to implement directives of the elected Jewish council, hoping to buy time until liberation, nearly always following the demands of the German command while trying to keep their pledge to devote themselves "to the well-being of the Jewish community in the ghetto," a community doomed to annihilation...Of interest to readers seeking to understand the actions of Jews during the Holocaust."

--Library Journal

"The detailed content as well as the analytical and critical quality of the report, combined with the superb introduction by Samuel D. Kassow, make this book a landmark of Holocaust historiography."

--Slavic Review