Thirty-six brief, often moving profiles of individuals who, usually at great personal risk, saved Jews from the Nazi juggernaut of death, from a noted French Jewish novelist (The Book of Abraham, 1986, etc.) and human-rights activist. Halter himself escaped the Warsaw Ghetto as a small boy with the help of two Polish Catholics. For this volume he traveled to 14 countries to interview other rescuers. He discovered such little-known stories as that of Berthold Beitz, who set up a protective factory (like Oskar Schindler's) employing Jews in Rumania under the auspices of the Krupp armaments empire, and Giorgio Perlasca, the ``Italian Wallenberg,'' who, by feigning to be the Spanish ambassador in Budapest in late 1944, rescued several thousand Hungarian Jews. The rescuers make some revealing observations about their life-saving work and its motivations and implications. A man involved in the mass ferrying of Danish Jews to Sweden in October 1943, for example, makes the remarkable statement that the Danes ``owe a debt of gratitude to the Jews for . . . they obligated us, by letting us save them, and in so doing, safeguarding our self-respect.'' Unfortunately, Halter has a tendency to cut short his stories so as to indulge in the Gallic penchant for meditation on Big Philosophical Questions. Thus, he wonders rather pointlessly, ``will we be able to find enough Just people in the whole world to prevent the worst ones from being totally victorious?'' Halter also seems unfamiliar with the extensive work on rescuers done by a host of American scholars, including Philip Hallie, Malka Drucker, and Eva Fogelman. And he is careless with certain facts, stating wrongly, for instance, that the captain of the ill-fated refugee ship St. Louis grounded the vessel off the coast of England. Despite these flaws, Halter's stories and interviews should touch readers—and help them expand their range of moral activism both in extremis and in day-to-day life.
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