The Restructuring of a Jewish Gemeinde into the “Prototype” of the Judenrat
In his study, Doron Rabinovici explores the genesis and development of the “prototype” of a Judenrat as the Nazi rulers successively restructured the Vienna Jewish Gemeinde (IKG) into a Council of Elders. The Jewish functionaries chose to accept their assigned role in the forced emigration and deportations not solely due to external compulsion, but also based on their inner conviction that only in this way could they continue to carry on with their tasks in the community. They possessed no power of their own, even though the Gemeinde members had the mistaken notion they did. Threats and deceptions clouded the eyes of the functionaries, rendering them incapable of fully perceiving the policy of annihilation. Their perception of its reality was also dulled by the 18-month-long parallelism between deportation and destruction, their preliminary success in individual interventions, and the hope that they would be able to save at least part of the community.