A riveting tale of the previously unknown and fascinating story of the unsung angels who strove to foil the Final Solution.




Beyond the well-known work of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, Wallace (The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich, 2003) sets out to tell the story of the staggering network built by a Swiss-based rescue group.

This small band worked tirelessly, giving of their lives and fortunes to save the Jews interned by the Nazis. Working with and against unbelieving ministers of Allied countries, Zionists and anti-Zionists, Orthodox and secular Jews, Catholics, outcasts, and even some Nazis, they saved tens of thousands of lives. Desperate attempts to convince the Allies to help—even to bomb railway lines to Auschwitz—met with nothing but frustration, as they were told that the priority was to win the war, not save lives. Even the Red Cross claimed that the Nazi treatment of Jews was an internal matter. The mutual suspicion and traditional divisions between secular and religious Jewish communities provided rifts that unfortunately often undermined some of their valiant attempts. Though many of the names will be unfamiliar to most readers—Recha and Isaac Sternbuch, Gerhart Riegner, Jean-Marie Musy, Joel Brand, Rudolf Kasztner—their work was indispensable, and the author brings them to well-deserved light. From physically saving refugees in Switzerland to providing false passports and visas to Italy or China, even a few to Palestine, small efforts grew into a larger, wider, and more desperate movement. In Slovenia, organizers hatched a plan to ransom prisoners, and the connection of a Finnish osteopath brought them to Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Holocaust. Himmler knew, as many Nazis did but were terrified to admit, that the war was lost. Himmler attempted to work with them to close the camps, but his fear of Hitler was palpable. Throughout, Wallace introduces readers to a host of inspiring heroes, most of whom were quiet and unassuming yet intensely dedicated to saving European Jewry.

A riveting tale of the previously unknown and fascinating story of the unsung angels who strove to foil the Final Solution.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-3497-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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