ONE MAN'S VALOR: Leo Baeck and the Holocaust by Anne E. Neimark
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ONE MAN'S VALOR: Leo Baeck and the Holocaust

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A person of consequence not likely to be known to young readers, Leo Baeck aptly demonstrates what being noble means. As Chief Rabbi of Berlin, Baeck chose to stay in Germany during the Nazi era, using his influence as a renowned scholar to help others escape. The text is at its most touching when it deals with dilemmas: Should Baeck share the truth about Auschwitz? (He doesn't, favoring hope over despair.) Should he save family possessions when the Nazis will inevitably destroy them? (He doesn't, dumping treasured pieces into the sea so the Nazis can't seize them or the spirit they represent.) The book is also informative about world affairs over the course of Baeck's long life. Neimark uses Jewish symbols effectively to relate response to the Nazi menace. While she occasionally skips over events that young readers might like to dwell on--smuggling children to England, Baeck being reunited with his daughter after the war--she still succeeds in conveying this man's valor. Baeck risks typhus to keep it from others; spends more than two years in a concentration camp--the cost of pursuing his philosophy of patience and imagination in the face of adversity. But in the end, that philosophy, coupled with much hard work, wins out. The Holocaust library contains few good, unfictionalized biographies for this age group. This work supplies another way to learn about the vast human capacity for nobility and valor.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton