New books

New books January 2021

A selection of books released in English about the Holocaust and related topics in January 2021.

Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust: Challenging Histories – Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right by Dan Stone

From the publisher, Routledge:

This book contains essays on Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust by distinguished scholar Professor Dan Stone. It examines issues such as race science and the racial state, Nazi race ideology, slave labour, concentration camps, British reaction to the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust, the search for missing persons in the chaos of postwar Europe and the postwar revival of fascism. Though mainly focused on Nazi Germany, it also makes comparisons with other fascist movements and regimes in Romania and elsewhere. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of antisemitism, fascism, Nazism, World War II, genocide studies and the Holocaust.

The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt by Anna Hajkova

From the publisher, Oxford University Press:

Terezin, as it was known in Czech, or Theresienstadt as it was known in German, was operated by the Nazis between November 1941 and May 1945 as a transit ghetto for Central and Western European Jews before their deportation for murder in the East. Terezin was the last ghetto to be liberated, one day after the end of World War II. The Last Ghetto is the first in-depth analytical history of a prison society during the Holocaust. Rather than depict the prison society which existed within the ghetto as an exceptional one, unique in kind and not understandable by normal analytical methods, Anna Hajkova argues that such prison societies that developed during the Holocaust are best understood as simply other instances of the societies human beings create under normal circumstances. Challenging conventional claims of Holocaust exceptionalism, Hajkova insists instead that we ought to view the Holocaust with the same analytical tools as other historical events. The prison society of Terezin produced its own social hierarchies under which seemingly small differences among prisoners (of age, ethnicity, or previous occupation) could determine whether one ultimately lived or died. During the three and a half years of the camp’s existence, prisoners created their own culture and habits, bonded, fell in love, and forged new families. Based on extensive archival research in nine languages and on empathetic reading of victim testimonies, The Last Ghetto is a transnational, cultural, social, gender, and organizational history of Terezin, revealing how human society works in extremis and highlighting the key issues of responsibility, agency and its boundaries, and belonging.

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The Bravest Voices: The Extraordinary Heroism of Sisters Ida and Louise Cook During the Nazi Era by Ida Cook

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

No one would have predicted such glamorous and daring lives for Ida and Louise Cook, two decidedly ordinary women who lived quiet lives in the London suburbs. But throughout the 1930s, the remarkable sisters rescued dozens of Jews facing persecution and death.

Ida’s memoir of the adventures she and Louise shared remains as fresh, vital, and entertaining as the woman who wrote it. Even when Ida began to earn thousands as a successful romance novelist, the sisters directed every spare resource, as well as their considerable courage and ingenuity, towards saving as many as they could from Hitler’s death camps.

Lamentation for 77,297 Victims by Jiri Weil and translated by David Lightfoot

From the publisher, Karolinum, Nakladatelstvi Univerzity Karlovy, Czech Republic:

“Smoke from nearby factories shrouds a countryside as flat as a table, a countryside stretching off to infinity. Covering it are the ashes of millions of dead. Scattered throughout are fine pieces of bone that ovens were not able to burn. When the wind comes, ashes rise to the heavens, bone fragments remain on the ground. And rain falls on the ashes, and rain turns them to good fertile soil, as befits the ashes of martyrs. And who can find the ashes of those from my native land, of whom there were 77,297? I gather some ashes with my hand, for only a hand can touch them, and I pour them into a linen sack, just as those who once left for a foreign country would gather their native soil so as never to forget, so as always to return to it.” ??? So begins Ji??i Weil’s unforgettable prose poem, Lamentation for 77, 297 Victims, his literary monument to the Czech Jews killed during the Holocaust. A Czech-Jewish writer who worked at Prague’s Jewish Museum both during and after the Nazi Occupation-he survived the Holocaust by faking his own death and hiding out until the war had ended-Weil wrote Lamentation while he served as the museum’s senior librarian in the 1950s. This remarkable literary experiment presents a number of innovative approaches to writing about a horror many would deem indescribable, combining a narrative account of the Shoah with newspaper-style reportage on a handful of the lives ended by the Holocaust and quotes from the Hebrew Bible to create a specific and powerful portrait of loss and remembrance. Translated by David Lightfoot, Lamentation for 77,297 Victims is a startling and singular introduction to a writer whose works have been acclaimed by Philip Roth, Michiko Kakutani, and Siri Hustvedt.

Innocent Witnesses: Childhood Memories of World War II by Marilyn Yalom

From the publisher, Stanford University Press:

In a book that will touch hearts and minds, acclaimed cultural historian Marilyn Yalom presents firsthand accounts of six witnesses to war, each offering lasting memories of how childhood trauma transforms lives.

The violence of war leaves indelible marks, and memories last a lifetime for those who experienced this trauma as children. Marilyn Yalom experienced World War II from afar, safely protected in her home in Washington, DC. But over the course of her life, she came to be close friends with many less lucky, who grew up under bombardment across Europe-in France, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, England, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Holland. With Innocent Witnesses, Yalom collects the stories from these accomplished luminaries and brings us voices of a vanishing generation, the last to remember World War II.

Memory is notoriously fickle: it forgets most of the past, holds on to bits and pieces, and colors the truth according to unconscious wishes. But in the circle of safety Marilyn Yalom created for her friends, childhood memories return in all their startling vividness. This powerful collage of testimonies offers us a greater understanding of what it is to be human, not just then but also today. With this book, her final and most personal work of cultural history, Yalom considers the lasting impact of such young experiences-and asks whether we will now force a new generation of children to spend their lives reconciling with such memories.

Holocaust to Resistance, My Journey by Suzanne Berliner Weiss

From the publisher, Fernwood Publishing Co Ltd:

Holocaust to Resistance, My Journey is a powerful, awe-inspiring memoir from author and activist Suzanne Berliner Weiss. Born to Jewish parents in Paris in 1941, Suzanne was hidden from the Nazis on a farm in rural France. Alone after the war, she lived in Communist-run orphanages, where she gained a belief in peace and brotherhood. Adoption by a New York family led to a tumultuous youth haunted by domestic conflict, fear of nuclear war and anti-communist repression, consignment to a detention home and magical steps toward relinking with her origins in Europe. At age seventeen, Suzanne became a lifelong social activist, engaged in student radicalization, the Cuban Revolution, and movements for Black Power, women’s liberation, peace in Vietnam and freedom for Palestine. Now nearing eighty, Suzanne tells how the ties of friendship, solidarity and resistance that saved her as a child speak to the needs of our planet today.

Love after Auschwitz – The Second Generation in Germany by Kurt Grunberg

From the publisher, Transcript Verlag:

This book addresses the personal and collective abysses that may open when, albeit many years after the Holocaust, but in the very country of the murderers, one examines the legacy of the National Socialist extermination of Jews. Jewish Lebenswelt in Germany entails involvement of survivors and their sons and daughters, born after the Shoah, with the non-Jewish German world of Nazi perpetrators, supporters, bystanders and their children. Love relationships probably represent the most intimate contact between former victims and perpetrators, or their supporters. This exploration of second-generation relationships in post-National-Socialist Germany is aimed at gaining deeper insights into what Theodor W Adorno called the “culture after Auschwitz”. The true extent and significance of the chasm that did indeed emerge during the course of this endeavour only became apparent in retrospect. Therefore, an article about the “history” of working on ‘Love after Auschwitz’ has been included.

How to Be a Refugee: One Family’s Story of Exile and Belonging by Simon May

From the publisher, Pan Macmillan:

The most familiar fate of Jews living in Hitler’s Germany is either emigration or deportation to concentration camps. But there was another, much rarer, side to Jewish life at that time: denial of your origin to the point where you manage to erase almost all consciousness of it. You refuse to believe that you are Jewish.

How to Be a Refugee is Simon May’s gripping account of how three sisters – his mother and his two aunts – grappled with what they felt to be a lethal heritage. Their very different trajectories included conversion to Catholicism, marriage into the German aristocracy, securing ‘Aryan’ status with high-ranking help from inside Hitler’s regime, and engagement to a card-carrying Nazi. 

Even after his mother fled to London from Nazi Germany and Hitler had been defeated, her instinct for self-concealment didn’t abate. Following the early death of his father, also a German Jewish refugee, May was raised a Catholic and forbidden to identify as Jewish or German or British.

In the face of these banned inheritances, May embarks on a quest to uncover the lives of the three sisters as well as the secrets of a grandfather he never knew. His haunting story forcefully illuminates questions of belonging and home – questions that continue to press in on us today.

The Boy from Boskovice: A Father’s Secret Life by Vicky Unwin

From the publisher, Unbound:

Vicky Unwin had always known her father – an erstwhile intelligence officer and respected United Nations diplomat – was Czech, but it was not until a stranger turned up on her doorstep that she discovered he was also Jewish.

So began a quest to discover the truth about his past – one that perhaps would help answer the niggling doubts she had always had about her ‘perfect’ father. Finally persuading him to allow her to open a closely guarded cache of family books and papers, Vicky discovered the identity of her grandfather: the tormented author and diplomat Hermann Ungar, hugely controversial in both life and in death, who was a protege and possible lover of Thomas Mann, and a friend of Berthold Brecht and Stefan Zweig. How much of her father’s child was Vicky – and how much of his father’s child was he?

As Vicky worked to uncover deeply buried family secrets, she would find herself slowly unpicking the lingering power of ‘survivors’ guilt’ on the generations that followed the Holocaust, and would learn, via a deathbed confession, of the existence of a previously unknown sister.

Together, the sisters attempted to come to terms with what had made their father into the deeply flawed, complex, yet charismatic man he has always been, journeying together through grief and heartache towards forgiveness.

The Fatherland and the Jews: Two Pamphlets by Alfred Wiener, 1919 and 1924 by Alfred Wiener

From the publisher, Granta Books:

The inaugural title in a collaboration between the Wiener Library and Granta Books. These two pamphlets, ‘Prelude to Pogroms? Facts for the Thoughtful’ and ‘German Judaism in Political, Economic and Cultural Terms’ mark the first time that Alfred Wiener, the founder of the Wiener Holocaust Library, has been published in English. Together they offer a vital insight into the antisemitic onslaught Germany’s Jews were subjected to as the Nazi Party rose to power, and introduce a sharp and sympathetic thinker and speaker to a contemporary audience. Tackling issues such as the planned rise of antisemitism and the scapegoating of minorities, these pamphlets speak as urgently to the contemporary moment as they provide a window on to the past.

Heroes of the Holocaust: Ordinary Britons who risked their lives to make a difference by Lyn Smith

From the publisher, Ebury Publishing:

In March 2010, twenty-seven Britons who took matters into their own hands to protect Jews from the Nazis during one of the darkest times in human history were formally recognised as ‘Heroes of the Holocaust’ by the British Government. The silver medal, inscribed with the words ‘In the Service of Humanity’, was created to acknowledge those ‘whose selfless actions preserved life in the face of persecution’. Gordon Brown described the medal’s recipients, who risked their lives to save those of Jewish friends, or complete strangers, as, ‘true British heroes and a source of national pride for all of us. They were shining beacons of hope in the midst of terrible evil because they were prepared to take a stand against prejudice, hatred and intolerance.’ 

Some, like Frank Foley, a British spy whose cover was working at the British embassy in Berlin, took huge risks issuing forged visas to enable around 10,000 Jews to escape Germany before the outbreak of World War 2. Others, like the ten British POWs who hid and cared for Hannah Sarah Rigler as she escaped from a death march, showed great humanity in the face of horrendous cruelty and suffering. All the recipients of the award were ordinary people, acting on no one’s authority but their own, who found they could not stand idly by in the face of this great evil.

Heroes of the Holocaust collects for the first time the remarkable stories of the recipients of the medal. Written by acclaimed Holocaust historian Lyn Smith, it is a moving testament to the bravery of those whose inspiring actions stand out in stark relief at a time of such horror.

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.

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