Cohen, Rich The Avengers

ISBN 13: 9780099289494

The Avengers

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9780099289494: The Avengers

When they were not yet twenty years old three young Jews left their families in Western Poland and came to the Lithuanian ghetto of Vilna. Abba, leader of the young people in the ghetto and Rushka and Vitka were his deputies. Together they organised the first underground movement in Europe, mapping the sewers and using the tunnels beneath the city to smuggle food and weapons into and out of the ghetto. In 1943 they escaped the ghetto and led their band of resistance fighters deep into the forests of Poland, where they lived for the remainder of the war. From here, they bombed the occupied city they loved. When the war was over Abba, Vitka and Rushka went to Israel, but they did not forget what they had learned in Vilna and in the forest.

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Review:

Rich Cohen, author of Tough Jews, has written what he calls "a Holocaust story without a concentration camp" about Jewish resistance fighters during World War II. The Avengers: A Jewish War Story describes how three young Jews--Cohen's cousin Ruzka Korczak, her friend Abba Kovner and Kovner's future wife Vitka Klemperer--created an armed, underground movement behind the German lines in Poland with the goal of sabotaging the Nazis and helping the Russians advance. Cohen reports that Kovner described the group's dilemma this way: "If we act cowardly, we die; if we act courageously, we die. So we might as well act courageously". The group's fighting outlasted the war to exact revenge on the Nazis held in Nuremberg and finally to fight for Israel in the 1948 War for Independence. Researching The Avengers, Cohen spent time with the surviving resistance fighters in Israel and in Eastern Europe. The result is a deeply personal and impassioned defence of a movement that some readers will view with pride and others will condemn as vigilantism. This book, like Tough Jews, is a lively, intelligent and heartfelt work of Jewish history. -- Michael Joseph Gross

Book Description:

'Gripping and even inspiring' Sunday Times

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Cohen, Rich
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Published by VINTAGE (2001)
ISBN 10: 0099289490 ISBN 13: 9780099289494
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