A fascinating story about how the “Danish Jews were protected by their compatriots’ consistent engagement.”



How a Danish national “we” kept the Nazis at bay—and largely saved its Jewish population.

In this passionately argued study, former Politiken editor in chief Lidegaard (Defiant Diplomacy, 2003, etc.) takes on the complicated creation of the “model protectorate” and discusses why Denmark was able to resist Nazi actions against their Jews when other occupied countries could not. The author combines fine research with specific examples of Jewish families—e.g., pediatrician Adolph Meyer and his children, as they were affected by the events that played out between April 9, 1940, with the abrupt and total occupation of the country by Nazi Germany, through the action taken against the Jews on October 1, 1943. With King Christian X’s decision not to resist the Nazi assault, Denmark entered a “peaceful occupation,” surrendering the export of its substantial agricultural production to Germany in exchange for upholding its neutrality and regard for constitutional democracy. It was an “unparalleled” arrangement, especially regarding the status of the Jews, protected as citizens under Danish law. A move against the Jews, Christian and others had warned, would be seen as an abuse of Nazi power and stir trouble into this working cooperation. Early on, readers may feel they are being fed a dreamy tale of Danish exceptionalism, but Lidegaard meticulously pieces together the myriad facets to this incredible story, including Hitler’s special envoy in Denmark, Werner Best, a committed Nazi who managed to play it both ways until the order for a Jewish action could no longer be delayed; Sweden’s open-door policy toward the Danish refugees; and the enterprising Jewish families who quickly had to go into hiding, relying on a goodwill network of friends and fishermen to shuttle them to safety in Sweden.

A fascinating story about how the “Danish Jews were protected by their compatriots’ consistent engagement.”

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-35015-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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