Bauer offers an eye-opening look into the following question: Could Jewish leaders in America, England, Palestine, and occupied Europe itself have ransomed significant numbers of their brethren? Bauer (Holocaust Studies/Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem; coauthor, A History of the Holocaust, 1982) examines carefully the motives of both Nazi figures (particularly SS head Heinrich Himmler) and various Jewish counterparts. His focus is on four ransom efforts: the Ha'avera (or ``transfer'') agreement by which considerable numbers of German Jews were permitted to emigrate to Palestine between 1933 and 1939 in exchange for large-scale purchases of German goods; the ``Europa Plan,'' advanced by Slovak Jewish leaders in 1943 to halt deporations to the death camps in exchange for a multimillion dollar payment; the famous ``Joel Brand affair'' of 1944, which was (inaccurately) said to have involved a proposed exchange of a million Jews, most in Hungary, for 10,000 trucks; and some far more modest, but also more successful, ransom efforts during the war's final months. After combing German, English, and Hebrew sources, Bauer concludes that Jewish leaders within and outside of occupied Europe achieved ``only partial and marginal successes'' in trying to rescue the ever-shrinking remnant of European Jewry. The Allies, bent on driving the Germans to an unconditional surrender, balked at cooperating with Jewish ransom efforts. For their part, the Nazis were ambivalent, at times committed to murdering every last European Jew, at times willing to make exceptions, particularly when it became clear that they would lose the war. Finally, some of the Jews who transmitted messages to and from the Nazis, and in rare cases dealt directly with them, were what Bauer terms ``shady underworld figures'' trusted neither by ``establishment'' Jewish leaders nor by the Allies. Bauer also looks at several key rescue efforts by non-Jews. Throughout this exemplary work of scholarship and clear historical narrative, Bauer's historical judgments are as balanced and fair-minded as his research is meticulous. A pathbreaking, superb contribution to Holocaust studies.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 1994

ISBN: 0-300-05913-2

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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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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