A story of hallucinatory grotesqueness told in an appalled voice that separates fact from rumor and grows rightfully angrier...




A tale of foul and petty mistrust, nastiness, corruption, and careerism that led to a man’s beheading and the incarceration of his charge, during the Nazi Nuremberg years.

A young German woman moved to Nuremberg in 1932. She was a bit of a free spirit, with a “somewhat impertinent sounding Brandenburg accent and the cheeky hats she wore imparted an exciting, exotic flair.” Irene Scheffler’s father had asked his friend Leo Katzenberger, a well-to-do Nuremberger in the shoe business, to look after her. He did just so: finding her an inexpensive apartment in one of his buildings, helping with her fledgling photography business, bestowing small treats and shoes from his warehouse. Such attention toward Scheffler “soon ran afoul of the several of the tenants’ sacred laws. She interfered with their need for order and unleashed feelings of envy.” It didn’t help that Katzenberger was a wealthy Jew living in a city experiencing economic difficulties and enrapt in Nazi propaganda. There is no evidence that Katzenberger and Scheffler had more than a platonic relationship, but their neighbors’ rumors blossomed into charges, from breaking purity laws to taking advantage of wartime circumstances to dally. Katzenberger was beheaded; Irene, for consorting with a Jew, was imprisoned. Der Spiegel editor Kohl does a fine and fierce job of letting this story unfold, complete with evil characters, from Julius Streicher (Nuremberg Nazi poo-bah) to the sentencing judge to venal informers and stalwart friends who tried to rid Katzenberger and Scheffler of their naïveté. Nuremberg was a hotbed of Nazi activity and ideology, and Kohl pulls that history ineluctably to its finish. She tells of the spat between Streicher and Hermann Goering, of the “Aryanization” laws that robbed the Jewish population of its property and livelihood, and the endless trail of dirty works that led to a good man’s guillotining.

A story of hallucinatory grotesqueness told in an appalled voice that separates fact from rumor and grows rightfully angrier until the very bitter end. (8 pp. b&w photographs)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2004

ISBN: 1-58642-070-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Steerforth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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