AFTER THE HOLOCAUST

REBUILDING JEWISH LIVES IN POSTWAR GERMANY

An all-too-brief but informative introduction to German Jewry since 1945, consisting of two essays by Brenner and 15 short autobiographical statements by Jewish communal, religious, and cultural leaders. Brenner (Jewish History and Culture/Univ. of Munich), himself a child of Holocaust survivors, notes that the Jewish community in Germany, which today numbers close to 50,000, has consisted of three streams: Holocaust survivors, overwhelmingly from Eastern Europe, who decided to settle in Germany for a wide variety of personal reasons; German Jews who had fled Nazi Germany and returned following the liberation; and immigrants from Israel and, starting in the mid-1980s, from the USSR. In the immediate post- Holocaust period, the community was so traumatized that a US chaplain described the survivors as ``demoralized beyond the hope of rehabilitation.'' The community also suffered both external neglect—help from American Jewish and other Diaspora organizations was late in coming—and internal divisions. While the returnees tended to be less religiously observant and more assimilated, the Eastern European survivors were largely Orthodox Jews and Yiddish speakers. In time, the two communities learned to work together and reconstituted old or established new Jewish structures in Germany. Brenner's thematic approach to this reconstruction leaves some important areas undercovered, but he does deal succinctly with a great deal of interesting material, including the recurrence of German anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, the tensions between Yekkes (German Jews) and Ostjuden (Eastern European Jews), and two major intracommunal financial scandals. Brenner reveals a community that demographically has grown surprisingly strong and durable, but that religiously and culturally remains weak, with communal leaders who have only a ``cursory awareness'' of their heritage. A very readable and useful study, written with the engaged sympathy of an insider and the balanced judgments of a fine historian. (For a profile of a postwar German-Jewish community in New York City, see Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer and Michael Kirchheimer, We Were So Beloved, p. 1438.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-691-02665-3

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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