Strangers in a Stranger Land -

Strangers in a Stranger Land

How One Country's Jews Fought an Unwinnable War alongside Nazi Troops... and Survived



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A twelve-year-old boy named Peisach is snatched from his home in a shtetl near Vitebsk in 1842 and marched far away to be prepared for 25 years of service in the Russian Imperial Army. Six years later, he will be assigned to a garrison in Viipuri, a city in eastern Finland, where his children and grandchildren will be born. Upon his discharge, Peisach will survive by mending second-hand clothes and peddling them on the market square. His son, Mendel, a hat maker, will strive to avoid deportation and enter the middle class as Finland, a grand duchy of the Russia Empire, lurches towards independence while Russia tries to tighten the reins of control. Peisach's grandson, Benjamin, ends up in the absurd situation of fighting alongside German troops on the Eastern Front in WWII as an openly Jewish soldier in the Finnish army. Like the other 266 Jewish soldiers in the Finnish army at the time, he is in a no-win situation. If the Soviets succeed in occupying Finland, he will be killed or sent to a gulag; if the Germans win, he will be sent to a death camp. He is hopelessly in love with Rachel, who is serving in the Women's Auxiliary and in as much danger as he is. Through bravery, determination, strong leadership and luck, Finland avoids occupation in its three wars between 1939 and 1945, and its Jewish citizens survive unscathed except for the 23 who are felled in combat by enemy fire. The story of Finland's Jews is unique, as is the story of their country's survival on the razor's edge between East and West. Whether read as a love story, a family chronicle, or the history of a little-known country and its tiny Jewish population, Strangers in a Stranger Land conveys the drama and complexity inherent in the dilemmas faced by this small country and its tiny Jewish minority as the Second World War approached and then engulfed them in bloody conflict the Finns tried hard to avoid.

Product code: 9780761871491

ISBN 9780761871491
Dimensions (HxWxD in mm) H227xW153xS30
Publisher University Press of America
No. Of Pages 488
The history of Finland's Jews, from their origin as conscripts in the Russian army to their survival as cobelligerents with Nazi troops in WWII, is unique. This novel tells their unusual story and that of their adopted country through the experiences of three generations of one family.