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When we think of the Nazi annihilation of the Jews we think of the death camps. But the gas chambers and crematoria lie on the periphery of this huge book. With clean, scrupulous scholarship it sets forth the Third Reich's program for the Jews, the victims' difficulty in anticipating their fate, and the progressive implementation of the Final Solution. The first part of the book moves chronologically: from Nazi efforts to force emigration (and outsiders' universal refusal to accept sizable immigration) to ghettos, pogroms and the years of deportation. The second part describes those years country by country. Miss Levin discusses the military-political context, including intra-Nazi policy disputes, and the European tradition of anti-Semitism, especially as they affected Germany's relations with the areas it controlled or occupied. She has strong opinions, but she refrains almost entirely from polemics. She rejects the Arendt thesis of Jewish passivity and metaphysical complicity. Two questions stand out: resistance and rescue. The facts are traced throughout the book and a late chapter presents some conclusions. Collective resistance was impossible, she says. But there was significant resistance, and more would have helped--although for the Germans, ""winning the war was secondary to killing Jews."" As for the bystanders, she makes a chilling case for British sabotage of rescue work, U.S. and Soviet indifference, Vatican selfishness, demonstrating that they were all aware of the genocide, while the Nazis remained susceptible to external pressures, from ransom to reprisal threats, which never came. A surpassingly comprehensive book and an extremely important one.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 1967
Publisher: Crowell