1939

On the boundary of two worlds : identity, freedom, and moral imagination in the Baltics

Book 20
Rodopi
Free sample

"This gripping and well-documented account of the history of the town of Vilnius and its surrounding region from the Polish ultimatum of March 1938, which forced Lithuania to open diplomatic relations with Poland, to the incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union in June 1940 is set against the evolution of Lithuania's relations with her neighbours during this crucial period. It is a major contribution to the outbreak of war in September 1939 and the subsequent evolution of Nazi Soviet relations." Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum "In this volume on Vilnius during 1939-1940, Prof. Liekis presents a remarkable history based on archival sources never before utilized in any English-language study. In revealing the geopolitical, ideological, economic, social and ethnic dimensions of an immense tragedy in the heart of Europe, the author provides a new perspective on the unraveling of a society and nation during the initial days of World War II as prelude to the most violent period in European history." Saulius Suziedelis, Professor Emeritus, Millersville University "Sarunas Liekis, who is well versed both in Baltic and in Jewish history, has produced a masterful study of an important subject. Liekis tackles controversial topics, makes sophisticated use of documentary materials, and reaches thoughtful and original conclusions. This is an impressive book." Jack Jacobs, The City University of New York
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About the author

Šarunas Liekis is a professor of Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius. Born in 1969 in Vilnius. Studied at Vilnius University (habilitation procedure passed in 2005); Brandeis University, Waltham, USA (1993-1998, PhD); Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel (1995-1996); Oxford University, UK (1991-1992, Diploma). Director and Professor, Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University (from 2001); Professor, Department of Politics, Mykolas Romeris University (from 2000). Earlier on Miles Lerman Research Fellow of the Center for the Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2001-2002); Deputy Director, Center for Stateless Cultures, Vilnius University (1998-2000); Assistant Professor, Department of History, Vilnius University (1999-2000) Director of Programs at the Open Society Fund Lithuania (1997-2001) Research and Teaching Assistant at Brandeis University (1993-1997). Expert for the Lithuanian Government Department for Minorities (from 2003); Country expert for the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) at the Council of Europe (from 2002); Country expert for the EUMC in Vienna, Austria (from 2003); Chairman of the Board of the NGO Information and Support Center, Vilnius, Lithuania (from 2000); Assistant at the Sakharov Archives at Brandeis University (1993-1997).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rodopi
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Published on
Dec 31, 2010
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Pages
386
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ISBN
9789042027626
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Baltic States
History / Europe / Germany
History / Modern / 20th Century
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"This is a powerful tale of the triumph of love under extremely difficult conditions. " - Publishers Weekly

At Leizer Bart's funeral, one of the mourners told his son Michael that the gravestone should include a reference to the Freedom Fighters of Nekamah, to honor his late father's involvement in the Jewish resistance movement in Vilna (now Vilnius), Lithuania, at the end of World War II. Michael had never heard his parents referenced as Freedom Fighters.

Following his father's death, and with his mother in failing health, Michael embarked on a ten-year research project to find out more details about his parents' time in the Vilna ghetto, where they met, fell in love, and married, and about their activities as members of the Jewish resistance. Until Our Last Breath is the culmination of his research, and his parents' story of love and survival is seamlessly tied into the collective story of the Vilna ghetto, the partisans of Vilna, and the wider themes of world history.

Zenia, Bart's mother, was born and raised in Vilna. Leizer fled there to escape the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Hrubieshov in Poland. They were married by one of the last remaining rabbis ninety days before the liquidation of the ghetto. Leizer was friends with Zionist leader Abba Kovner and became a member of the Vilna ghetto underground. Shortly before the total liquidation of the ghetto, Zenia and Leizer, along with about 120 members of the underground, were able to escape to the Rudnicki forest, about 25 miles away. They became part of the Jewish partisan fighting group led by Abba Kovner—known as the Avengers—which carried out sabotage missions against the Nazi army and eventually participated in the liberation of Vilna.

Until Our Last Breath is intensely personal and painstakingly researched, a lasting memorial to the Jews of Vilna, including the resistance fighters and the author's family.

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