In the Shadow of Hitler is the first comprehensive state study of how southern Jews-and non-Jews-dealt with the coming of the Good War and the Nazi persecution of European Jews.
In 1982, the Orthodox congregation of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile, Alabama, reconsecrated a Torah scroll from the Altneuschule in Prague, Czechoslovakia, that had been seized by the Nazis in the midst of the Holocaust. The Nazis, over the course of their occupation of Czechoslovakia, confiscated from Jewish communities throughout Bohemia and Moravia 1,564 Torahs, among numerous other Judaic ceremonial objects. The Nazis had the Torahs catalogued and planned to exhibit them after the war in a museum to the extinct Jewish race. Ahavas Chesed acquired the Altneuschule scroll from the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust to honour the members of those communities who had perished in the camps.
Dan J. Puckett's In the Shadow of Hitler examines the Jews of Alabama and shows that they were fully aware of events that affected Jews both nationally and internationally. Although Alabama's Jewish community was divided between Central and Eastern European and Sephardic backgrounds and cultures, and the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox traditions, the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Europe forced this disparate Jewish community to put aside its differences and work together to aid and save European Jewry. In doing so, Alabama's Jews not only effectively lobbied influential politicians on the local, state, and national level, and swayed the opinions of newspaper editors, Christian groups, and the general public, but their cooperation also built bridges that spanned the cultural and religious divides within their own community.
In the Shadow of Hitler illustrates how this intracommunity cooperation, the impact of the war and the murder of six million European Jews, and the establishment of the state of Israel built the foundation for closer cultural and religious cooperation in Alabama in the decades that followed.