New books

New books July 2020

A selection of new titles related to the Holocaust, published in the UK and US in May, June and July 2020.

Holding On and Holding Out: Jewish Diaries from Wartime France by
Anne Freadman

From the publisher, University of Toronto Press:

Examining the diary as a particular form of expression, Holding On and Holding Out provides unique insight into the experiences of Jews in France during the Second World War. Unlike memoirs and autobiographies that reconstruct particular life stories or events, diaries record daily events without the benefit of retrospect, describing events as they unfold. Holding On and Holding Out assesses how individuals used diaries to record their daily life under persecution, each waiting for some end with a mix of hope and despair. Some used the diary to bear witness not only to the terror of their own lives, but also to the lives and suffering of others. Others used their writing as a memorial to people who were killed. All used their writing to assert: “I live, I will have lived.” Holding On and Holding Out follows the diaries of two specific individuals, Raymond-Raoul Lambert and Benjamin Schatzman, from their first entry to the last one they wrote before they disappeared into the Nazi extermination camps. The author concludes the book by considering how reflections on their experience are informed by the times in which they lived, before the advent of persecution.

Invisible Years: A Family’s Collected Account of Separation and Survival during the Holocaust in the Netherlands by Daphne Geismar and Robert Jan van Pelt

From the publisher, David R. Godine Publisher Inc:

During the Second World War, as the Nazis tightened their grip on the Netherlands, the Jewish population was slowly restricted from public life-everything from owning a bike to having a job was forbidden. Sensing the murderous consequences of deportation, Daphne Geismar’s family-her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles-decided to separate and go into hiding. Parents and children were torn apart, living for years in isolation behind a church organ, below floorboards, or even in plain sight.

While timelines and notes provide context, we hear the voices of young Mirjam, sent by her parents to live with a family of strangers; Judith whose braids were cut to make her look less Jewish; Nathan, taken in and given false papers by a Dutch soldier. Ordinary people whose collective story is one of resilience and resistance, survival and compassion.

“This is an important book because many people don’t know what took place in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation….[The] fascinating story also highlights the courage of the rescuers involved in that dangerous undertaking. It is a story that must be told to inspire others never to give up even when it seems all is lost.”-Mordecai Paldiel, Former Director, Righteous Among Nations, Yad Vashem

The S.S. Officer’s Armchair: Uncovering the Hidden Life of a Nazi by Daniel Lee

From the publisher, Penguin Books:

It began with an armchair. It began with the surprise discovery of a stash of personal documents covered in swastikas sewn into its cushion. The SS Officer’s Armchair is the story of what happened next, as Daniel Lee follows the trail of cold calls, documents, coincidences and family secrets, to uncover the life of one Dr Robert Griesinger from Stuttgart. Who was he? What had his life been – and how had it ended?

Lee reveals the strange life of a man whose ambition propelled him to become part of the Nazi machinery of terror. He discovers his unexpected ancestral roots, untold stories of SS life and family fragmentation. As Lee delves deeper, Griesinger’s responsibility as an active participant in Nazi crimes becomes clearer.

Dr Robert Griesinger’s name is not infamous. But to understand the inner workings of the Third Reich, we need to know not just its leaders, but the ordinary Nazis who made up its ranks. Revealing how Griesinger’s choices reverberate into present-day Germany, and among descendants of perpetrators, Lee raises potent questions about blame, manipulation and responsibility.

A historical detective story and a gripping account of one historian’s hunt for answers, The SS Officer’s Armchair is at once a unique addition to our understanding of Nazi Germany and a chilling reminder of how such regimes are made not by monsters, but by ordinary people.

Journey to Poland: Documentary Landscapes of the Holocaust by Maurizio Cinquegrani

From the publisher, Edinburgh University Press:

Journey to Poland addresses crucial issues of memory and history in relation to the Holocaust as it unfolded in the territories of the Second Polish Republic. Aiming to understand the ways past events inform present-day landscapes, and the way in which we engage with memory, witnessing and representation, the book creates a coherent cinematic map of this landscape through the study of previously neglected film and TV documentaries that focus on survivors and bystanders, as well as on members of the post-war generation. Applying a spatial and geographical approach to a debate previously organised around other frameworks of analysis, Journey to Poland uncovers vital new perspectives on the Holocaust.

Echoes of Trauma and Shame in German Families: The Post-World War II Generations by Lina Jakob

From the publisher, Indiana University Press:

How is it possible for people who were born in a time of relative peace and prosperity to suddenly discover war as a determining influence on their lives?

For decades to speak openly of German suffering during World War II-to claim victimhood in a country that had victimized millions-was unthinkable. But in the past few years, growing numbers of Germans in their 40s and 50s calling themselves Kriegsenkel, or Grandchildren of the War, have begun to explore the fundamental impact of the war on their present lives and mental health. Their parents and grandparents experienced bombardment, death, forced displacement, and the shame of the Nazi war crimes. The Kriegsenkel feel their own psychological struggles-from depression, anxiety disorders, and burnout to broken marriages and career problems-are the direct consequences of unresolved war experiences passed down through their families.

Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and a broad range of scholarship, Lina Jakob considers how the Kriegsenkel movement emerged at the nexus between public and familial silences about World War II, and critically discusses how this new collective identity is constructed and addressed within the framework of psychology and Western therapeutic culture.

Enacting History: A Practical Guide to Teaching the Holocaust through Theater by Mira Hirsch, Janet E. Rubin and Arnold Mittelman

From the publisher, Routledge:

Enacting History is a practical guide for educators that provides methodologies and resources for teaching the Holocaust through a variety of theatrical means, including scripted texts, verbatim testimony, devised theater techniques and process-oriented creative exercises.

A close collaboration with the USC Shoah Foundation I Witness program and the National Jewish Theater Foundation Holocaust Theater International Initiative at the University of Miami Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies resulted in the ground-breaking work within this volume. The material facilitates teaching the Holocaust in a way that directly connects students to individual people and historical events through the art of theater. Each section is designed to help middle and high school educators meet curricular goals, objectives and standards and to integrate other educational disciplines based upon best practices. Students will gain both intellectual and emotional understanding by speaking the words of survivors, as well as young characters in scripted scenes, and developing their own performances based on historical primary sources.

This book is an innovative and invaluable resource for teachers and students of the Holocaust; it is an exemplary account of how the power of theater can be harnessed within the classroom setting to encourage a deeper understanding of this defining event in history.

The Search for M by Doron Rabinovici

From the publisher, Ariadne Press:

The plot of The Search for M revolves around the lives in contemporary Vienna of two generations of European Jews, the survivors of the Holocaust and their children. Members of the first generation of survivors, their own sense of identity severely undermined by history, are capable of passing on to their offspring only a very fragile sense of worth and belonging. The lives of two main characters of the second generation illustrate the result of this legacy. Dani Morgenthau’s sense of self boundaries is so weak that he suffers as an adult from a pathological compulsion to claim the guilt of criminals. Arieh Arthur Bein exploits a similar psychological defect in his work as an agent for the Israeli secret service. With only the barest of evidence to go on, he seeks out and exposes enemies of the Israeli state, setting them up for the assassin’s bullet. The novel reaches for at least a tentative resolution when the lives of these two figures intersect.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1961, Doron Rabinovici was three years old when his family moved to Vienna in 1964. He grew up in Austria’s capital and studied at the university there. As a member of Vienna’s small post-Holocaust Jewish community he has a special interest in history, has written essays as well as fiction and been increasingly active as a journalist in the past few years.

Holocaust Education: Contemporary Challenges and Controversies by Stuart Foster, Andy Pearce and Alice Pettigrew

From the publisher, UCL Press:

Teaching and learning about the Holocaust is central to school curriculums in many parts of the world. As a field for discourse and a body of practice, it is rich, multidimensional and innovative. But the history of the Holocaust is complex and challenging, and can render teaching it a complex and daunting area of work. Drawing on landmark research into teaching practices and students’ knowledge in English secondary schools, Holocaust Education: Contemporary challenges and controversies provides important knowledge about and insights into classroom teaching and learning. It sheds light on key challenges in Holocaust education, including the impact of misconceptions and misinformation, the dilemmas of using atrocity images in the classroom, and teaching in ethnically diverse environments. Overviews of the most significant debates in Holocaust education provide wider context for the classroom evidence, and contribute to a book that will act as a guide through some of the most vexed areas of Holocaust pedagogy for teachers, teacher educators, researchers and policymakers.


If you are publishing a book on the Holocaust or related topics and would like to suggest its inclusion in future New Books roundups, please get in touch via the contact page.

Inclusion of titles on this list does not represent endorsement of their contents.

4 comments on “New books July 2020

  1. Have just discovered your Twitter account and site–such a useful service! Many thanks. I write about Holocaust literature regularly myself. For example, https://wp.me/p4iUoF-ew and https://wp.me/p4iUoF-xt.

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    • Thank you for you comment! I look forward to reading more of your blog – what I have seen is very interesting.

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      • Thanks! I’m sort of lazy with tagging, but you should be able to find a fair bit of Holocaust-related material using the search box.

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  2. Of these titles, I have Invisible Lives and had heard about the Lee, but am glad to learn of many of the others.

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