A modest but moving addition to the historical literature surrounding the Shoah.

DEATH ON THE BLACK SEA

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE STRUMA AND WORLD WAR II’S HOLOCAUST AT SEA

Istanbul-based journalists Frantz and Collins bring to light a forgotten incident in WWII shameful for Allies and Axis alike.

With its long history of anti-Semitism, Romania made a willing partner in Hitler’s war against the Jews of Europe—so willing, in fact, that Hitler feared that Romania might emerge as “a bastion for fascists who were even more brutal than his own troops.” For the country’s Jews, this meant endless persecution, though some of the wealthier ones were able to bribe their tormentors to leave them alone and even to permit their escape through such vehicles as the Struma, a worn-out ship that in December 1941 took some 800 Jewish refugees from the Black Sea port of Constanta with a view to landing in British-controlled Palestine. There the plot thickens, for according to the authors (Celebration, U.S.A., 1999, etc.), the British had no interest in admitting more Jews into the territory; foreign secretary Anthony Eden even remarked to an underling, “If we must have preferences, let me murmur in your ear that I prefer Arabs to Jews,” and his subordinates responded in kind. Forbidden landing, the Struma was interned in an Istanbul harbor for two months, then expelled from Turkish waters and sunk by a Soviet submarine; through good investigative work, Frantz and Collins produce evidence that Josef Stalin had ordered the sinking of all nonbelligerent shipping in the open waters of the Black Sea, although they cannot say why. All but one of the Struma’s passengers and crews died. The authors tell this ugly story competently, if without much flair; their narrative is strangely flat for so dramatic an incident. Nonetheless, they’re to be commended for producing one more bit of proof that none of the major powers cared much about the fate of Europe’s Jews during the Nazi era.

A modest but moving addition to the historical literature surrounding the Shoah.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-621262-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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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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