NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS

VOL. I: THE YEARS OF PERSECUTION

An eminent Holocaust historian gives voice to both the perpetrators and victims of Nazi Germany's prewar persecutions. Historian and memoirist FriedlÑnder (Reflections of Nazism, 1984; When Memory Comes, 1979; etc.) here offers the first part of a two-volume study of the Holocaust. This eloquent, richly documented history focuses on the period from the rise of the Nazis to the onset of war in 1939, and traces how the Nazi regime gradually drew the German nation into a war against its Jewish population, first harassing, then isolating, and finally openly attacking Jews throughout Germany. The author relies heavily on the words of both notorious racists and everyday Germans, as well as the reactions of Jews and gentile critics of the regime to its increasingly violent actions, drawing from letters, diaries, speeches, and newspaper articles. The first shot was aimed at the ``excessive influence'' of Germany's Jews on her cultural life, and it's documented here with excerpts from the letters of famous composers, painters, and writers, including Thomas Mann's correspondence with Albert Einstein. This portrait of the German people is not unmixed: While we encounter professors who were all too pleased to have their Jewish department heads and colleagues dismissed as threats to Aryan culture, we also read a German businessman's description of the seizure of Jewish shops by entrepreneurs who were ``like vultures swarming down . . . their tongues hanging out with greed, to feed upon the Jewish carcass.'' The institutionalized ostracism and pauperization of Germany's Jews was fueled, according to FriedlÑnder, by ``a synthesis of murderous rage'' and polluted idealism, created by the Nazi regime and embraced by the German people. Not surprisingly, the notes and list of works cited here take up 80 pages. The exhaustive spade work makes this the richest, fullest study of its kind. The reader comes as close as one would ever want to get to Nazi Germany of the 1930s. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-019042-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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