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The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe (Jewish Cultures of the World) Paperback – June 17, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Phantom Holocaust traces the story of a shadow Soviet film industry that only rarely managed to represent the tragedy that filmmakers, directors, and screenwriters sought to warn against or memorialize. Gershenson’s work is a monumental achievement in giving a voice to the lost Soviet Holocaust films—to the filmmakers, and to also the millions whose fates they attempted to memorialize."
(Tablet)

"A pioneering book on the history of Holocaust representation in Soviet cinema. Gershenson's book unearths much about the history of the cinematic representation of the Holocaust beyond Hollywood's iconic take on the subject, tracing—and occasionally breathing new life into—the phantoms that the Soviet cinema industry has left behind."
(Forward)

"Nearly a dozen long-lost, rarely seen Soviet films and scores of screenplays that were never produced about the persecution of Jews during World War II have been revived to offer decades-old evidence of a side of the Holocaust few people recognize today. From the dusty archives of Moscow and elsewhere across Russia, the works are featured in The Phantom Holocaust, a startling new book."
(RIA-Novosti)

"The story of the Holocaust, as told by Soviet filmmakers, is very different from the Hollywood versions shown on U.S. movie screens. The Russian films were not about concentration camps, ghettos, and deportations, for that was not the doom to befall Soviet Jews. Rather, in Soviet films that were made about World War II, a viewer had to read between the linesto catch the subtle, almost hidden messages that the screenwriters and film directors managed to get past the  censors. Olga Gershenson has interviewed those filmmakers and spent many months digging through censors’ documents and film critics’  reviews of their films for her new book The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe."
(Jewish Advocate)

"The first voice in an important conversation about an entirely new canon in the history of film."
(Timothy Snyder Yale University)

"This knowledgeable researched history of the Holocaust in Soviet and Russian cinema is a voyage into the unknown. Olga Gershenson not only tells us about those few movies that exist but those that were unmade and those that could never be made."
(J. Hoberman author of Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film between Two Worlds)

"In this work of prodigious scholarship, Gershenson makes an important contribution to the depiction of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. Highly recommended."
(Choice)

About the Author

OLGA GERSHENSON is an associate professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of Gesher: Russian Theater in Israel and editor of Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Cultures of the World
  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (July 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813561809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813561806
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a very interesting book that looked at the difficulties of Soviet and Russian cinema in dealing with the Holocaust on Soviet territory.

The author's argument was that Soviet cinema tended to "externalize" the Holocaust by focusing on the Holocaust in non-Soviet territories and thus avoid the unique aspects of the Holocaust in the USSR. She identified two films, "The Unvanquished" and "Eastern Corridor," which dealt with the massacre of Jews on Soviet soil and showed how these were then marginalized in distribution.

Most of the book, however, showed how censorship snuffed out potential films dealing with the Holocaust or the Soviet Jewish wartime experience. Here is where the book felt like a mystery thriller. The author often had to track down and talk to the authors of these "phantom" (because they were never made) films.

"The Phantom Holocaust" is a very informative book that reveals previously undiscussed aspects of the Soviet film industry and the Soviet Jewish experience. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing here-to-fore unknown tale of Soviet Jewry through the lens of film. Quite brilliant and a must. Dr. Gershenson has revived an entire field of knowledge.
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