A selection of new titles related to the Holocaust, published in the UK and US in September 2020.
The People on the Beach: Journeys to Freedom After the Holocaust by Rosie Whitehouse
From the publisher, Hurst:
One summer’s night in 1946, over 1,000 European Jews waited silently on an Italian beach to board a secret ship. They had survived Auschwitz, hidden and fought in forests and endured death marches—now they were taking on the Royal Navy, running the British blockade of Palestine.
From Eastern Europe to Israel via Germany and Italy, Rosie Whitehouse follows in the footsteps of those secret passengers, uncovering their extraordinary stories—some told for the first time. Who were those people on the beach? Where and what had they come from, and how had they survived? Why, after being liberated, did so many Jews still feel unsafe in Europe? How do we—and don’t we—remember the Holocaust today? This remarkable, important book digs deep and travels far in search of answers.
The Sephardim in the Holocaust: A Forgotten People by Isaac Jack Levy and Rosemary Levy Zumwalt
From the publisher, University of Alabama Press:
Documents the first-hand experiences in the Holocaust of the Sephardim from Greece, the Balkans, North Africa, Libya, Cos, and Rhodes
The Sephardim suffered devastation during the Holocaust, but this facet of history is poorly documented. What literature exists on the Sephardim in the Holocaust focuses on specific countries, such as Yugoslavia and Greece, or on specific cities, such as Salonika, and many of these works are not available in English.
The Sephardim in the Holocaust: A Forgotten People embraces the Sephardim of all the countries shattered by the Holocaust and pays tribute to the memory of the more than 160,000 Sephardim who perished. Isaac Jack LEvy and Rosemary LEvy Zumwalt draw on a wealth of archival sources, family history (Isaac and his family were expelled from Rhodes in 1938), and more than one hundred fifty interviews conducted with survivors during research trips to Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the former Yugoslavia, and the United States. LEvy follows the Sephardim from Athens, Corfu, Cos, Macedonia, Rhodes, Salonika, and the former Yugoslavia to Auschwitz.
The authors chronicle the interminable cruelty of the camps, from the initial selections to the grisly work of the Sonderkommandos inside the crematoria, detailing the distinctive challenges the Sephardim faced, with their differences in language, physical appearance, and pronunciation of Hebrew, all of which set them apart from the Ashkenazim. They document courageous Sephardic revolts, especially those by Greek Jews, which involved intricate planning, sequestering of gunpowder, and complex coordination and communication between Ashkenazi and Sephardic inmates-all done in the strictest of secrecy. And they follow a number of Sephardic survivors who took refuge in Albania with the benevolent assistance of Muslims and Christians who opened their doors to give sanctuary, and traces the fate of the approximately 430,000 Jews from Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, and Libya from 1939 through the end of the war.
The author’s intention is to include the Sephardim in the shared tragedy with the Ashkenazim and others. The result is a much needed, accessible, and viscerally moving account of the Sephardim’s unique experience of the Holocaust.
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We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport by Deborah Hopkinson
From the publisher, Scholastic:
Sibert Honor author, Deborah Hopkinson, illuminates the true stories of Jewish children who fled Nazi Germany, risking everything to escape to safety on the Kindertransport. Ruth David was growing up in a small village in Germany when Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s. Under the Nazi Party, Jewish families like Ruth’s experienced rising anti-Semitic restrictions and attacks. Just going to school became dangerous. By November 1938, anti-Semitism erupted into Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, and unleashed a wave of violence and forced arrests. Days later, desperate volunteers sprang into action to organise the Kindertransport, a rescue effort to bring Jewish children to England. Young people like Ruth David had to say goodbye to their families, unsure if they’d ever be reunited. Miles from home, the Kindertransport refugees entered unrecognisable lives, where food, clothes – and, for many of them, language and religion – were startlingly new. Meanwhile, the onset of war and the Holocaust visited unimaginable horrors on loved ones left behind. Somehow, these rescued children had to learn to look forward, to hope. Through the moving and often heart-wrenching personal accounts of Kindertransport survivors, critically acclaimed and award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson paints the timely and devastating story of how the rise of Hitler and the Nazis tore apart the lives of so many families and what they were forced to give up in order to save these children.
My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List by Rena Finder with Joshua M. Greene
From the publisher, Scholastic:
The astonishing true story of a girl who survived the Holocaust thanks to Oskar Schindler, of Schindler’s List fame. Rena Finder was only eleven when the Nazis forced her and her family – along with all the other Jewish families – into the ghetto in Krakow, Poland. Rena worked as a slave laborer with scarcely any food and watched as friends and family were sent away. Then Rena and her mother ended up working for Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who employed Jewish prisoners in his factory and kept them fed and healthy. But Rena’s nightmares were not over. She and her mother were deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz. With great cunning, it was Schindler who set out to help them escape. Here in her own words is Rena’s gripping story of survival, perseverance, tragedy and hope. Including pictures from Rena’s personal collection and from the time period, this unforgettable memoir introduces young readers to an astounding and necessary piece of history.
The Search Warrant: Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano
From the publisher, Vintage:
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2014.
Haunted by the fate of Dora Bruder – a fifteen-year-old girl listed as missing in an old December 1941 issue of Paris Soir – Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick Modiano sets out to find all he can about her. From her name on a list of deportees to Auschwitz to the fragments he is able to uncover about the Bruder family, Modiano delivers a moving survey of a decade-long investigation that revived for him the sights, sounds and sorrowful rhythms of occupied Paris. And in seeking to exhume Dora Bruder’s fate, he in turn faces his own family history.
Hitler’s True Believers: How Ordinary People Became Nazis by Robert Gellately
From the publisher, Oxford University Press:
Understanding Adolf Hitler’s ideology provides insights into the mental world of an extremist politics that, over the course of the Third Reich, developed explosive energies culminating in the Second World War and the Holocaust. Too often the theories underlying National Socialism or Nazism are dismissed as an irrational hodge-podge of ideas. Yet that ideology drove Hitler’s quest for power in 1933, colored everything in the Third Reich, and transformed him, however briefly, into the most powerful leader in the world. How did he discover that ideology? How was it that cohorts of leaders, followers, and ordinary citizens adopted aspects of National Socialism without experiencing the “leader” first-hand or reading his works? They shared a collective desire to create a harmonious, racially select, “community of the people” to build on Germany’s socialist-oriented political culture and to seek national renewal. If we wish to understand the rise of the Nazi Party and the new dictatorship’s remarkable staying power, we have to take the nationalist and socialist aspects of this ideology seriously. Hitler became a kind of representative figure for ideas, emotions, and aims that he shared with thousands, and eventually millions, of true believers who were of like mind . They projected onto him the properties of the “necessary leader,” a commanding figure at the head of a uniformed corps that would rally the masses and storm the barricades. It remains remarkable that millions of people in a well-educated and cultured nation eventually came to accept or accommodate themselves to the tenants of an extremist ideology laced with hatred and laden with such obvious murderous implications.
Escaping Extermination: Hungarian Prodigy to American Musician, Feminist, and Activist by Agi Jambor
From the publisher, Purdue University Press:
Written shortly after the close of World War II, Escaping Extermination tells the poignant story of war, survival, and rebirth for a young, already acclaimed, Jewish Hungarian concert pianist, Agi Jambor. From the hell that was the siege of Budapest to a fresh start in America. Agi Jambor describes how she and her husband escaped the extermination of Hungary’s Jews through a combination of luck and wit.
As a child prodigy studying with the great musicians of Budapest and Berlin before the war, Agi played piano duets with Albert Einstein and won a prize in the 1937 International Chopin Piano Competition. Trapped with her husband, prominent physicist Imre Patai, after the Nazis overran Holland, they returned to the illusory safety of Hungary just before the roundup of Jews to be sent to Auschwitz was about to begin. Agi participated in the Resistance, often dressed as a prostitute in seductive clothes and heavy makeup, calling herself Maryushka. Under constant threat by the Gestapo and Hungarian collaborators, the couple was forced out of their flat after Agi gave birth to a baby who survived only a few days. They avoided arrest by seeking refuge in dwellings of friendly Hungarians, while knowing betrayal could come at any moment. Facing starvation, they saw the war end while crouching in a cellar with freezing water up to their knees.
After moving to America in 1947, Agi made a brilliant new career as a musician, feminist, political activist, professor, and role model for the younger generation. She played for President Harry Truman in the White House, performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and became a recording artist with Capitol Records. Unpublished until now but written in the immediacy of the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, Escaping Extermination is a story of hope, resilience, and even humor in the fight against evil.
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Inclusion of titles on this list does not represent endorsement of their contents.