Jewish and Israel Studies

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The Incredible Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Bochnia (68715)

The Story of a Galician Jew – Persecution, Liberation, Transformation

Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz is Chair of the Graduate Program in Contemporary Jewry and Associate Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel. She is the author of numerous books and articles about the Holocaust, Gender, Memory, State of Israel, and Commemoration. Among her books are Double Jeopardy: Gender and the Holocaust (Vallentine Mitchell, 1998), and Perfect Heroes: The World War II Parachutists and Collective Israeli Memory (forthcoming, University of Wisconsin Press, 2010).

This a book about Chaskel Tydor, an Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor, who was at various times a bookkeeper, metallurgist, kibbutz founder, Hebrew book publisher, uranium mine manager, and travel agent. Spanning close to ninety years of life, his story takes the reader through three continents, two marriages, and one Holocaust. At the same time, it is also the story of much of the Jewish people during the twentieth century, or at least those who found themselves wandering between countries, learning to function in new languages and societies, building and joining various Jewish communities, and continuously adopting different outward ways of life while trying to maintain their Jewish beliefs and practices.

Through the story of one, albeit unique man, we learn the history of an era: Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the First World War, events in Weimar and Hitler's Germany during the 1920s and 1930s, the struggle for survival in Nazi camps, the creation of the State of Israel, Jewish life in the United States after the Second World War including in far-flung areas such as Montana and South Dakota, and finally, the events in Israel following the Yom Kippur War and up to and including the first Intifada (1987). This a book of Jewish survival and triumph chronicling the transformation and rebirth not only of one man but of an entire Jewish world.

Throughout the book Dr Baumel-Schwartz provides substantive Further Reading lists and bibliographic information which allows readers to source and compare other scholarship and writings on the places and historical circumstances presented.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-380-5
Paperback Price: ££19.95 / $34.95
Release Date: January 2010
Page Extent / Format: 256 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Foreword by Walter Laqueur

Introduction: Givatayim 1993

Chapter 1 Bochnia 1903-1914
Chapter 2 Munich 1914-1920
Chapter 3 Frankfurt-Lodz-Frankfurt 1920-1939
Chapter 4 Buchenwald-Auschwitz-Buchenwald 1939-1945
Chapter 5 Geringshof 1945
Chapter 6 Jerusalem-Tel Aviv 1945-1951
Chapter 7 New York 1951-1957
Chapter 8 Rapid City, SD and Deer Lodge Montana 1958-1959
Chapter 9 New York 1959-1974
Chapter 10 Ramat Gan-Givatayim 1974-1993

Epilogue – Bochnia 2007

Further Reading

The author’s father Haskel Tydor and I were together in Buna and Buchenwald. Her absorbing and moving biography of him communicates his commitment to the Jewish people and its tradition, his warmth and his wisdom.
Elie Wiesel

Chaskel Tydor miraculously survived six years of the camps which had been built to exterminate European Jewry. He was a modest man with no ambitions of leadership but in the camp when leadership was needed and was thrust on him he emerged in a position of authority; he maintained such a position in the years after the liberation when he was instrumental in establishing Kibbutz Buchenwald. … This painstaking biography, a true labor of love by the hands of an experienced historian, deals primarily with the life of one man who had lost his wife and most of his other relations and friends in these Holocaust years and had to face life after the liberation. How could he have found the way to a new life?
From the Foreword by Walter Laqueur, editor of The Holocaust Encyclopedia (Yale University Press)

I read this book with the advantage/disadvantage of having participated in two or three courses taught by the author. I know her as a highly serious educator with a special sense of humor. This book is not an historical text, but a biography of the author’s father, an Ostjude who survived five years in concentration camps, saved many people, and lived an eventful life after the war. The book is well written, portraying the subject very closely with a careful attempt to explain the historical context of the events. The author also examines the problem of moral choice in extreme situations. Although the biographer is too close to the subject of her work and the problem of perspective arises, it is a minor problem to my mind. I was reading a thriller in parallel and it was the thriller that I neglected. Be warned!
AJL Newsletter

Baumel-Schwartz grew up listening to her Holocaust survivor father’s tales of a fictional adventurer named ‘Buffalo Bill from Bochnia.’ In this biography, she combines interviews with the late Haskel Tydor (inmate # 68715 who was in Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel) with her study of Kibbutz Buchenwald, the first post-war kibbutz in liberated Germany which he helped found in 1945. She traces her father’s life from Poland to Palestine/Israel and the US. The book includes a foreword noting the lack of data on the number of concentration camps survivors, photographs, further reading, and a bibliography.
Reference & Research Book News

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