ON THE MARGINS
About the History of Jews in Estonia
Estonia is perhaps the only country in Europe that lacks a comprehensive history of its Jewish minority. Spanning over 150 years of Estonian Jewish history, On the Margins is a truly unique book. Rebuilding a life beyond so-called Pale of Jewish Settlement in the Russian Empire, the Jewish cultural autonomy in interwar Estonia, and the trauma of Soviet occupation of 1940–41 are among the issues addressed in the book but most profoundly, the book wrestles with the subject of the Holocaust and its legacy in Estonia.
Specifically, it examines the quasi-legal system of murder instituted in Nazi-occupied Estonia, confiscation of Jewish property, and Jewish forced labor camps and develops an analysis of the causes of collaboration during the Holocaust. The book also explores the dynamics of war crimes trials in the Soviet Union since the 1960s and so-called denaturalization trials in the United States in the 1980s. The haunting memory of Soviet and Nazi rule, the book concludes, prevents a larger segment of today’s Estonian population from facing up to the Holocaust and the universal message that it carries.
Anton Weiss-Wendt holds a PhD in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Since 2006 he heads the research department at the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Oslo, Norway. He is the author of Murder Without Hatred: Estonians and the Holocaust (Syracuse University Press, 2009) and Small-Town Russia: Childhood Memories of the Final Soviet Decade (Florida Academic Press, 2010), and the editor of Eradicating Differences: The Treatment of Minorities in Nazi-Dominated Europe (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), The Nazi Genocide of the Roma: Reassessment and Commemoration (Berghahn Books, 2013), and Racial Science in Hitler’s New Europe, 1939-1945 (with Rory Yeomans;