"Secret City" by Gunnar S.              Paulsson

Secret City The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940–1945 Gunnar S. Paulsson

Publication date:
06 Aug 2013
Yale University Press
328 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Though the Nazis forced most of Warsaw’s Jews into the city’s infamous ghetto during World War II, some 28,000 Jews either hid and never entered the Warsaw Ghetto or escaped from it. This book—the first detailed treatment of Jewish escape and hiding during the Holocaust—tells the dramatic story of the hidden Jews of Warsaw.

Gunnar S. Paulsson shows that after the 1942 deportations nearly a quarter of the ghetto’s remaining Jews managed to escape. Once in hiding, connected by elaborate networks of which Poles, Germans, and the Jews themselves were largely unaware, they formed what can aptly be called a secret city. Paulsson challenges many established assumptions. He shows that despite appalling difficulties and dangers, many of these Jews survived; that the much-reviled German, Polish, and Jewish policemen, as well as Jewish converts and their families, were key in helping Jews escape; that though many more Poles helped than harmed the Jews, most stayed neutral; and that escape and hiding happened spontaneously, without much help from either the Polish or the Jewish underground. He suggests that the Jewish leadership was wrong to dismiss the possibility of escape, staking everything on a hopeless uprising. Paulsson’s engrossing book offers a new perspective on Jewish honor and Holocaust history.

Gunnar S. Paulsson is the Pearl Resnick Fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, has taught at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and was Senior Historian of the Holocaust project at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Winner of the 1998 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History (for dissertation only)

Won the Polish Studies Association 2004 Orbis Book Prize

“For many of us in this field it is always hard to imagine something new. Paulsson manages to break new ground, however, and offers an intelligent, fresh analysis.”—Michael Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto