In the Lions Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen

Paperback | December 10, 2008

byNechama Tec

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A Jew passing as a Christian in occupied Poland during WWII, Oswald Rufeisen worked as translator and personal secretary to a Nazi commander of the German police, repeatedly risking his life to save hundreds from the Nazis. A relatively unknown Jewish hero and rescuer at the magnitude of OskarSchindler, Rufeisen's life and role during the Holocaust is perhaps even more riveting and complex than the man memorialized by Stephen Spielberg in Schindler's List. Only seventeen years old when WWII began, Rufeisen joined the exodus of Poles who fled the approaching German army. Bright and talented, Rufeisen used his ability to speak fluent German to pass as half German and half Polish in Mir, where he came to serve the German commander in charge of thegendarmerie. As he carried out his duties - reading death sentences to prisoners, swearing in new police officers before a portrait of Hitler - he earned the trust and affection of the German commander, yet lived in constant fear of discovery. He used his position to pass secret information to Jewsand Christians about impending "Aktionen" and to sabotage Nazi plans. Most notably, he thwarted the annihilation of the Mir ghetto by arming hundreds of Jews and organizing their escape, and saved an entire Belorussian village from destruction. Eventually discovered and denounced, Rufeisen escapedand found shelter in a convent, where he converted to Catholicism. Though a pacifist, he spent the rest of the war fighting in a Russian partisan unit, similar to the Bielski unit of Tec's Defiance. After the war, Father Daniel (as he came to be known) became a priest and a Carmelite monk. Identifying himself as a Christian Jew and an ardent Zionist, he moved to Israel, where he challenged the Law of Return in a case that reached the High Court and attracted international attention. In the Lion's Den, from author Nechama Tec of Defiance and several other astonishing accounts of Jewish survival and rescue during the Holocaust, offers a stirring portrait of a Jewish rescuer during the Holocaust and its aftermath, illuminating the intricate connections between good and evil,cruelty and compassion, and Judaism and Christianity.

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A Jew passing as a Christian in occupied Poland during WWII, Oswald Rufeisen worked as translator and personal secretary to a Nazi commander of the German police, repeatedly risking his life to save hundreds from the Nazis. A relatively unknown Jewish hero and rescuer at the magnitude of OskarSchindler, Rufeisen's life and role during ...

Nechama Tec is Professor Emerita of Sociology at University of Connecticut, and author of several books, including Defiance, soon to be a major motion picture starring Daniel Craig, and Courage and Resilience: Women, Men and the Holocaust(Yale 2003). Internationally noted Holocaust scholar, she was appointed in 2002 to the Council of t...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 6.1 × 9.09 × 0.79 inPublished:December 10, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195383478

ISBN - 13:9780195383478

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. Before and Into the War2. In Search of Solutions3. Imprisonment4. Life on the Farm5. Becoming Someone Else6. The Town of Mir7. Becoming a Police Officer8. Working for the Authorities9. The Savior of Simakowo10. Involvement with the Ghetto11. Organizing the Escape12. Exodus and Confrontation13. Conversion14. Moving to the Forest15. Life as a Partisan16. Becoming a Carmelite Monk and a Priest17. A Catholic Jew?18. An Independent LifeNotesIndex