David K. Zimmerman

Nov 22, 2023

Ensnared Between Hitler and Stalin

Refugee Scientists in the USSR

University of Toronto Press 2023

In the 1930s, hundreds of scientists and scholars fled Hitler’s Germany. Many found safety, but some made the disastrous decision to seek refuge in Stalin’s Soviet Union. The vast majority of these refugee scholars were arrested, murdered, or forced to flee the Soviet Union during the Great Terror. Many of the survivors then found themselves embroiled in the Holocaust. Ensnared Between Hitler and Stalin: Refugee Scientists in the USSR (U Toronto Press, 2023) explores the forced migration of these displaced academics from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union.

The book follows the lives of thirty-six scholars through some of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. It reveals that not only did they endure the chaos that engulfed central Europe in the decades before Hitler came to power, but they were also caught up in two of the greatest mass murders in history. David Zimmerman examines how those fleeing Hitler in their quests for safe harbour faced hardship and grave danger, including arrest, torture, and execution by the Soviet state. Drawing on German, Russian, and English sources, Ensnared between Hitler and Stalin illustrates the complex paths taken by refugee scholars in flight.

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Ari Barbalat holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of California in Los Angeles. He lives in Toronto with his family.

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