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From the JFR Library – April 2023

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From the JFR Library

How Was It Possible? A Holocaust Reader

Edited and introduced by Peter Hayes.

In 2015, the JFR in conjunction with the University of Nebraska Press and Professor Peter Hayes, published How Was It Possible? A Holocaust Reader. How Was It Possible? is the cornerstone text for the JFR’s national Holocaust teacher education program and is the primary text for our annual Summer Institute for Teachers.

Reviewed by Jack Fischel for the Jewish Book Council.

Peter Hayes, a professor of history and Holocaust studies and the editor of this important book, has gathered passages from the works of scholars who have attempted to explain the mechanics of what made the Holocaust possible.

The reader is divided into nine chapters: “The Context,” “Nazism in Power,” “Impediments to Escape,” “The New Order in Europe,” “Jews in the Nazi Grip,” “The German Killers and Their Methods,” “Collaboration and its Limits,” “Rescuing Jews – Means and Obstacles,” and “Aftermath.”  Among the many well-known scholars and survivors whose writings are excerpted in this volume are Saul Friedländer, Gunner Paulsson, Richard Breitman and Alan Kraut, Robert Wistrich, Amos Elon, Sebastian Haffner, Richard Rhodes, and Primo Levi.

As the Holocaust recedes from living memory, future generations of students will no longer have access to the testimony of the survivors of the Shoah. Thus film documentaries, memories, and scholarly works, such as those excerpted in this volume, will carry the onus for keeping the memory of this terrible period of twentieth century history unforgotten. The anthology should prove valuable not only to academic specialists, but to college students, their teachers, as well as the general reader.

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