A welcome addition to Holocaust literature.

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AND THE WORLD CLOSED ITS DOORS

ONE FAMILY’S STRUGGLE TO ESCAPE THE HOLOCAUST

One German-Jewish family’s experiences during the Shoah reveal broader trends in this cautionary account by the author of Where Ghosts Walked (1997).

Large (History/Montana State Univ.) writes modestly at the outset that an account such as this, focusing on only a handful of people, cannot provide definitive answers to such big-picture matters as the democratic powers’ failure to rescue Europe’s Jews by allowing unimpeded immigration. Yet the Schohl family’s experience is highly instructive: though moneyed and well-educated, they were turned away from every portal of escape, barred from entering England, the US, Brazil, even Chile by bureaucratic indifference at best, barely covert anti-Semitism at worst. The large J stamped on their German passports—an invention, Large writes, not of the Nazi regime but of the Swiss, “to facilitate the process of excluding” Jewish refugees—was shibboleth enough to bar the Schohls from fleeing, though family members and friends in the US and England did what they could to get them out. More than describe the Schohls’ misfortune on that count, Large details the daily life of Jews within the Third Reich. He writes, for example, that Max Schohl was well-regarded in his native village of Flörsheim, both for his heroism during WWI and for such acts as paying his workers in dollars during the collapse of the Weimar economy and providing needy families with food. Such acts of kindness did not keep his lifelong best friend from refusing to step in when Max was sent to Buchenwald in 1938. (The same friend asked the Schohls to testify to his good character at his postwar trial, a request they denied.) And the people of Flörsheim simply pretended not to notice when the Schohls disappeared. Drawing on a wealth of family documents that supplement the official histories, Large gives a compelling portrait of a family, a place, and a nightmarish time.

A welcome addition to Holocaust literature.

Pub Date: May 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-465-03808-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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