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A thoroughgoing history of indispensable purveyors of active and passive resistance in Nazi Germany.

The story of a group of valiant German voices of opposition to Hitler’s murderous regime.

Troubled by Hitler’s racist, unhinged, warlike rhetoric, these Germans, largely from the Christian upper class of Berlin, expressed alarm and attempted to sabotage a variety of Nazi plans. Journalist Dunkel, author of Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball's Color Line, frames the suspenseful narrative around the work and family of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, leader of the Confessing Church, established in spring 1934 as “an offshoot of the Protestant National Church,” which operated “without ties to the Nazi Party, staking out a position firmly opposed to the deification of Hitler.” By 1937, the Gestapo had shut down the church, jailed many of the pastors, and suppressed the teachings of Bonhoeffer and his associates. At the time, his brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi, a staff attorney at the Ministry of Justice, began secretly compiling a list of Nazi transgressions, which he referred to as the “Chronicle of Shame.” Both had connections to high-ranking Nazi officials, which they used to their advantage during their dangerous, clandestine plotting, creating a confederation known as the Black Orchestra. In addition to chronicling the actions of the Black Orchestra, the author weaves in the lives and fortunes of other early Hitler critics, including American journalist Dorothy Thompson, who believed that “Nazi Germany out-eviled almost everybody’s frame of reference”; Paul Schneider, the first Confessing Church pastor murdered by the Nazis; and Carl von Ossietzky, a pacifist journalist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 and then spent the next three years being tortured in a series of concentration camps before he died in 1938 in Berlin. “After some of the beatings,” writes Dunkel, “guards would ask Ossietzky to sign a statement retracting his criticisms of the German government. He never took back a word.”

A thoroughgoing history of indispensable purveyors of active and passive resistance in Nazi Germany.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-306-92218-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

“The Mongols swept across the globe as conquerors,” writes the appreciative pop anthropologist-historian Weatherford (The History of Money, 1997, etc.), “but also as civilization’s unrivaled cultural carriers.”

No business-secrets fluffery here, though Weatherford does credit Genghis Khan and company for seeking “not merely to conquer the world but to impose a global order based on free trade, a single international law, and a universal alphabet with which to write all the languages of the world.” Not that the world was necessarily appreciative: the Mongols were renowned for, well, intemperance in war and peace, even if Weatherford does go rather lightly on the atrocities-and-butchery front. Instead, he accentuates the positive changes the Mongols, led by a visionary Genghis Khan, brought to the vast territories they conquered, if ever so briefly: the use of carpets, noodles, tea, playing cards, lemons, carrots, fabrics, and even a few words, including the cheer hurray. (Oh, yes, and flame throwers, too.) Why, then, has history remembered Genghis and his comrades so ungenerously? Whereas Geoffrey Chaucer considered him “so excellent a lord in all things,” Genghis is a byword for all that is savage and terrible; the word “Mongol” figures, thanks to the pseudoscientific racism of the 19th century, as the root of “mongoloid,” a condition attributed to genetic throwbacks to seed sown by Mongol invaders during their decades of ravaging Europe. (Bad science, that, but Dr. Down’s son himself argued that imbeciles “derived from an earlier form of the Mongol stock and should be considered more ‘pre-human, rather than human.’ ”) Weatherford’s lively analysis restores the Mongols’ reputation, and it takes some wonderful learned detours—into, for instance, the history of the so-called Secret History of the Mongols, which the Nazis raced to translate in the hope that it would help them conquer Russia, as only the Mongols had succeeded in doing.

A horde-pleaser, well-written and full of surprises.

Pub Date: March 2, 2004

ISBN: 0-609-61062-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2003

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