WITNESS TO THE HOLOCAUST by Azriel--Ed. Eisenberg

WITNESS TO THE HOLOCAUST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Holocaust happened. Like the Anthology of Holocaust Literature (1969), edited by Jacob Glatstein et al., but on a larger scale, this compendium of 150 eyewitness accounts sets forth--for the doubting or the unexposed--virtually every aspect: the Nazi party, the SS, Kristallnacht, passive onlookers, emigration, ghettos, deportation, death camps, resistance, escape, gentile aid, partisan fighting, liberation, immigration, war trials, commemorative events. Eisenberg culled the accounts from written sources: published and unpublished diaries, autobiographies and memoirs, affidavits submitted to the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg, Yad Vashem conference proceedings, SS Daily reports and letters. They represent the testimony of Jews and non-Jews, known and obscure individuals, Nazis and victims, participants and observers, survivors and those who perished. Explicitly intended to ""affect your innermost being,"" many of the accounts are intrinsically powerful: a seven-year-old boy whose parents were killed matter-of-factly asked a Polish policeman to shoot him too; a German girl whose father opposed her marriage to an SS man betrayed her father to the Nazis; a child hidden in a cupboard for five years emerged at age seven an orphan and unable to walk. But on the whole the accounts are so brief--only one-to-ten pages in length--that no sooner does the reader become involved than the excerpt ends. (One selection breaks off just when two brothers jump out of a deportation train; what happened next we aren't told.) By chopping up the testimonies, and thus transforming the experiences into anecdotes, Eisenberg has sacrificed much of the value of first-hand accounts--the insight they provide into why people acted as they did. What made one Jew resist and another not? One gentile turn his back and another risk her life to help? For painfully authentic evidence of the Holocaust, the book will suffice; but for an understanding of the Holocaust, readers might better turn to anthologies of unabridged accounts (like We Survived, edited by Erich H. Boehm, 1949), or to the diaries and memoirs which served as Eisenberg's sources.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1981
Publisher: Pilgrim--dist. by Seabury