Gives a voice to the neglected Mischlings (half-breeds) and provides a significant record of both wartime and postwar...




Sensitive oral histories of the suffering of Hitler’s tainted Aryans, products of mixed marriages.

As reflected in her bibliography, Crane (English/Raymond Walters Coll.) is more concerned with the biographic genre than the WWII period. Her account should not be compared to Holocaust memoirs, like Joe Rosenblum’s recent Defy the Darkness, where starvation, suicide, sadism, and murder are common. Once expectations are lowered, this Fulbright scholar’s oral histories of eight women who suffered “only” shock, anxiety, and lesser persecution may be appreciated for their less dramatic but still disturbing subtleties. The subsequent chapters and interviews grew from Crane’s own family history. Her Lutheran grandfather, Felix Cohn, had Jewish genes, so his medical license was revoked and he fled Germany in the 1930s. Typically, the Gestapo encouraged divorce and made life miserable for the remaining “impure” Aryans. In the 1950s, the author’s father changed his surname to Crane and, also typically, didn’t reveal the family’s checkered pedigree for decades. Most of the interviewees had their identity and their prospects overturned in one shocking moment when the Nuremburg Laws mudslide struck. Crane more than records these women’s pained stories of exclusion and mistreatment; she depicts the sadness in their voices and eyes, and in each apartment’s telling books and photos. Ruth Wilmschen, for example, brings copious notes to read at her interview, and meticulously divides her photos between Jewish and Christian relatives. We come to understand why these women are paranoid of any form of nationalism, and why issues like reparation money and the Turkish foreign presence in Germany are daily concerns. One woman enthuses about Jesus sightings, and almost all of them were baptized, but Crane makes her subjects “Jewish” and human enough.

Gives a voice to the neglected Mischlings (half-breeds) and provides a significant record of both wartime and postwar Germany.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-21953-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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