What a Life: From Nazi Germany via Neo-Marxism to American Academia

Salomon Rettig
Hunter College of the City University of New York, NY

Series: Political Science and History
BISAC: POL010000



Volume 10

Issue 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick


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What a Life is a unique book that is part memoir, part historical chronicle, part a social psychological dissertation of the impact of a set of diverse social systems upon a single soul. It is the result of a lifetime of evidence-gathering, thought, and introspection. Salomon Rettig, professor emeritus at the Department of Psychology, Hunter College CUNY, was born into and subsequently experienced three radically different social, political, and economic systems of the twentieth century: Nazism, Neo-Marxism (the Israeli kibbutz), and the academic system of the United States of America. Now in his nineties, he attempts to compare this diverse set of experiences, their historical and political context, and their effect on him, especially as he has related to other people. The results are not very pretty.

He watched Hitler come to power in his native Berlin and experienced the depersonalization of the Jewish population on the part of the Nazis, prior to escaping at the age of thirteen to an orphanage for Jewish Holocaust refugees in British Mandate Palestine. He subsequently worked on a kibbutz for ten years, subjugating his personal will to the will and interest of the collective. Finally, he arrived in the United States, completed his education, and embarked on a career as a professor of social psychology just as the United States entered a historic, post-war period of rapid, unprecedented economic growth. Was it the estrangement from his nuclear family at a very young age, assimilation into the commune of the kibbutz, or something else that led to his inability to relate to the other people in his life, even those as close to him as his first wife?
(Imprint: Nova)

Foreword by the Author’s Son

Chapter I: Nazism (1923 to 1937)

Chapter II: The Kibbutz (1937 to 1947)

Chapter III: USA (1947 to the present)

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