New books

New Books May 2021

A selection of recently published books on the Holocaust and other related subjects.

All About Eva: A Holocaust-Related Memoir, with a Hollywood Twist by Vincent Brook

From the publisher, Gefen Books:

Rudy Brook had just passed the German Bar exam and married his childhood sweetheart. Hitler’s coming to power put an end to Rudy’s law career, and his wife, Eva, dashed his Zionist dream, insisting they emigrate to America instead of Palestine. Their arrival in 1938 on Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) spared them that calamity and the even graver one to follow. But that’s only half the story. Eva’s connections to the upscale refugee colony in Los Angeles led Rudy to become a gardener to stars such as Judy Garland, and Eva to become a masseuse to other celebrities, actor Alexander Granach among them. A big name in pre-Nazi Germany and featured in Ninotchka with Greta Garbo, his affair with Eva would wreak havoc on the budding Brook family and leave Eva with a life-altering decision about herself and the author’s older brother. Harrowing yet uplifting, All About Eva combines elements of the memoir and the historical novel to tell a compelling tale of three remarkable individuals and the tumultuous times in which they lived.

Claude Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’ Outtakes: Holocaust Rescue and Resistance by Sue Vice

From the publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing:

As we approach the end of the ‘era of the witness’, given the passing on of the generation of Holocaust survivors, Claude Lanzmann’s archive of 220 hours of footage excluded from his ground-breaking documentary Shoah (1985) offers a remarkable opportunity to encounter previously unseen interviews with survivors and other witnesses, recorded in the late 1970s. Although the archive is all available freely to view online and includes extra footage of those who appear in Shoah, this book focuses on the interviews from which no extracts appear in the finished film or in any subsequent release. The material analysed features interviews with such significant figures as the former partisan Abba Kovner, wartime activist Hansi Brand, Kovno Ghetto leader Leib Garfunkel, rescuer Tadeusz Pankiewicz and members of Roosevelt’s War Refugee Board, and focuses throughout on the efforts at rescue and resistance by those within and outside occupied Europe. Sue Vice contends that watching and analysing this wholly excluded footage gives us new insights into the making of Shoah through what was left out. Moreover, she reveals that the near-impossibility of rescue and often suicidal implications of resistance emerge through these excluded interviews as inextricable from the process of genocide. She concludes by arguing that the outtakes show the potential for new filmic forms envisaged on Lanzmann’s part in order to represent the crucial topics of attempted Holocaust rescue and resistance.

The Compromise of Return: Viennese Jews after the Holocaust by Elizabeth Anthony

From the publisher, Wayne State University Press:

The Compromise of Return: Viennese Jews after the Holocaust explores the motivations and expectations that inspired Viennese Jews to reestablish lives in their hometown after the devastation and trauma of the Holocaust. Elizabeth Anthony investigates their personal, political, and professional endeavors, revealing the contours of their experiences of returning to a post-Nazi society, with full awareness that most of their fellow Austrians had embraced the Nazi takeover and their country’s unification with Germany-clinging to a collective national identity myth as “first victim” of the Nazis. Anthony weaves together archival documentation with oral histories, interviews, memoirs, and personal correspondence to craft a multilayered, multivoiced narrative of return focused on the immediate postwar years. The book consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 begins with setting the historical scene and political context to elucidate the backdrop for the role and position of Jews in Austrian and Viennese society. Chapter 2 begins just before the Soviet conquest of Vienna in April 1945 and with the story of the last Jews murdered in Vienna. Chapter 3 deals with the second group of returning Jews-concentration camp survivors-and outlines their varied processes and journeys, as they also followed their impulse to go to their familial home. Chapter 4 presents how their parties shaped their motivations and expectations of home while they lived abroad after fleeing from the Nazis. Chapter 5 illuminates the return and rerooting of Austrian Jewish professionals, including their struggles and successes. Chapter 6 expounds common challenges encountered by all groups of returnees while relaunching their lives in Vienna, with a focus on developing postwar identity concepts-both Viennese Jewish identity and Austrian national identity. The Compromise of Return is the first such social history to depict how survivors-individually and collectively-navigated postwar Vienna’s political and social setting. This book will be of special interest to scholars, students, and readers of Holocaust and European studies.

Charlotte Delbo: A Life Reclaimed by Ghislaine Dunant, translated by Kathryn M. Lachman

From the publisher, University of Massachusetts Press:

In 1943, Charlotte Delbo and 229 other women were deported to a station with no name, which they later learned was Auschwitz. Arrested for resisting the Nazi occupation of Paris, Delbo was sent to the camps, enduring both Auschwitz and Ravensbruck for twenty-seven months. There, she, her fellow deportees, and millions of others were subjected to slave labor and nearly succumbed to typhus, dysentery, and hunger. She sustained herself by reciting Moliere and resolved to someday write a book about herself and her fellow deportees, a stunning work called None of Us Will Return. After the camps, Delbo devoted her life to the art of writing and the duty of witnessing, fiercely advocating for the power of the arts to testify against despotism and tyranny.

Ghislaine Dunant’s unforgettable biography of Delbo, La vie retrouvee (2016), captivated French readers and was awarded the Prix Femina. Now translated into English for the first time, Charlotte Delbo: A Life Reclaimed depicts Delbo’s lifelong battles as a working-class woman, as a survivor, as a leftist who broke from the Communist Party, and most of all, as a writer whose words compelled others to see.

The Towns of Death: Pogroms Against Jews by Their Neighbors by Miroslaw Tryczyk, translated by Frank Szmulowicz

From the publisher, Lexington Books:

The Towns of Death deals with the pogroms of Jews in Eastern Poland in 1941-1942 perpetrated by their Polish neighbors. The book relies on witness reports from survivors, bystanders, and the murderers themselves as found in court testimonies to describe the eerily similar, horrific events that occurred in some dozen towns throughout the region. It Importantly, the author demonstrates the pivotal role of the Catholic clergy and individual priests, the intellectual classes, and political circles in sowing the seeds that allowed anti-Semitism to grow and express itself in the pogroms in which tens of thousands of Polish Jews were slaughtered individually and en masse by their Polish neighbors.

The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Revolt by Avinoam Patt

From the publisher, Wayne State University Press:

The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Revolt by Avinoam J. Patt analyzes how the heroic saga of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was mythologized in a way that captured the attention of Jews around the world, allowing them to imagine what it might have been like to be there, engaged in the struggle against the Nazi oppressor. The timing of the uprising, coinciding with the transition to memorialization and mourning, solidified the event as a date to remember both the heroes and the martyrs of Warsaw, and of European Jewry more broadly. The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw includes nine chapters. Chapter 1 includes a brief history of Warsaw from 1939 to 1943, including the creation of the ghetto and the development of the Jewish underground. Chapter 2 examines how the uprising was reported, interpreted, and commemorated in the first year after the revolt. Chapter 3 concerns the desire for first-person accounts of the fighters. Chapter 4 examines the ways the uprising was seized upon by Jewish communities around the world as evidence that Jews had joined the struggle against fascism and utilized as a prism for memorializing the destruction of European Jewry. Chapter 5 analyzes how memory of the uprising was mobilized by the Zionist movement, even as it debated how to best incorporate the doomed struggle of Warsaw’s Jews into the Zionist narrative.

Chapter 6 explores the aftermath of the war as survivors struggled to come to terms with the devastation around them. Chapter 7 studies how the testimonies of three surviving ghetto fighters present a fascinating case to examine the interaction between memory, testimony, politics, and history. Chapter 8 analyzes literary and artistic works, including Jacob Pat’s Ash un Fayer, Marie Syrkin, Blessed is the Match, and Natan Rapoport’s Monument to the Ghetto Fighters, among others. As this book demonstrates, the revolt itself, while described as a “”revolution in Jewish history,”” did little to change the existing modes for Jewish understanding of events. Students and scholars of modern Jewish history, Holocaust studies, and European studies will find great value in this detail-oriented study.

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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