Reading List

Reading List #10: Hannah Arendt’s cigarette case; The last of the 43

This is Reading List #10, a selection of recent Holocaust-related news stories and links from around the internet.


The life and work of philosopher and journalist Hannah Arendt is commemorated in a photo-article based on objects displayed by Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum (DW). Arendt was born and educated in Germany, but fled when the Nazis took power in 1933, fearing persecution as a Jew. Outside of academic circles, she was most famous for her long report for the New Yorker magazine on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, during which she coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe her impression of the high-ranking Nazi official. Among the objects pictured in the article is a silver cigarette case, the importance of which is explained by exhibition curator Monika Boll: “Like a briefcase, it was a work tool for her… smoking was part of her process of getting her thoughts organized.”


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The Guardian reports on surviving members of the 43 Group, a remarkable guerrilla army made up of ex British-Jewish servicemen and others, which fought fascists in Britain in the years immediately after WW2. Five of their number are alive today; a sixth, Maurice Podro, died a few weeks ago. Vidal Sassoon was a member. Their story shines a light on a little known aspect of post-war British history and reveals that fascist sympathies remained alive in various parts of the UK even after the death of Hitler and the end of the Nazi regime. The group was the subject of the 2019 book We Fight Fascists by Daniel Sonabend, reviewed last year by The Guardian; you can also read a moving tribute to the late Maurice Podro by his step son, Adam Gee.


Now 97, Henry Kissinger has always been a controversial figure for his involvement in the decision making process in Nixon’s White House. Thomas Meaney examines Kissinger’s ideas in an essay for the New Yorker, which surveys books on his thinking and legacy. There are also less well known details of Kissinger’s early life and wartime career: born in Bavaria in 1923, he fled Germany with his family shortly before Kristallnacht and later joined the US Army, leading to his involvement with the liberation of Ahlem concentration camp near Hanover. Kissinger was for many years reluctant to speak about it, but a post at Tablet brings together his statements on the subject.


CBS News reports on a parade organised to celebrate the 100th birthday of Holocaust survivor Heinz Wallach, who lives in north Texas. His daughter enlisted the help of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum to organise the gathering of vehicles and appropriately-distanced visitors. The article mentions his early life in Germany and time in concentration camps in passing, though there isn’t much more about Wallach’s experiences.


If you have seen a relevant article that could be included in next week’s reading list, why not get in touch via the contact page, or on Twitter, @holocaustreader?

Inclusion of articles on this list does not necessarily indicate endorsement of opinions expressed within them.

Images in this post are used under the principle of fair use for the purposes of review, education and study, and will be removed at the request of the copyright holder(s)The header image shows Hannah Arendt.


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