A welcome addition to Holocaust literature that remains relevant to our current isolationist times.

THE UNWANTED

AMERICA, AUSCHWITZ, AND A VILLAGE CAUGHT IN BETWEEN

Dobbs (Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman—from World War to Cold War, 2012, etc.) follows the trail and the trials of the Jewish population of Kippenheim, a small village near the Black Forest.

For decades in this rural area, there was little friction with the locals, and anti-Semitism seemed to be confined to cities and towns. As the author writes, “for many Christian Kippenheimers, antisemitism was more a matter of class resentment than racial hatred….A cultural and psychological gulf developed between the Christian farmers and the Jewish tradesmen.” Despite the gulf, there wasn’t much violence. However, everything changed with Kristallnacht, a supposed “spontaneous protest” against “murderous” Jews. The senseless roundup and destruction of Jewish men was the signal, to those who were paying attention, that Germany was not safe. In this potent, focused history, Dobbs tells the alternately heart-wrenching and uplifting story of the Kippenheim Jews who entered the tangle of bureaucracy involved in the efforts to obtain visas and flee Germany. Most wished to go to the United States, but there were immigration quotas, and those quotas were filled in 1938, with little hope of expansion. Thankfully, there were those who eventually made it to America, but they were often greeted with xenophobia. In his thorough research, the author discovered many instances of those who bent the rules to help—e.g., tireless organizations like the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Rescue Board as well as many brave individuals—and he generously shares those stories with readers in the hopes that we will never forget what happened to the thousands of “unwanted” refugees who fled the Nazi killing machine. In her foreword, Sara Bloomfield, the director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, encapsulates the author’s project: No amount of studying or writing or memorializing can bring back those who were murdered….But it can help us remember them as people who lived, not just victims who died.”

A welcome addition to Holocaust literature that remains relevant to our current isolationist times.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3319-3

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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...

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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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