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From the JFR Library – May 2020

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From the JFR Library

How Was it Possible? A Holocaust Reader

edited by Peter Hayes

Reviewed by Jack Fischel for the Jewish Book Council, June 1, 2015.

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, mem­oirs, 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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