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Amidst Latvians During the Holocaust Paperback – January 24, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Occupation Museum Association of Latvia (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9984993183
  • ISBN-13: 978-9984993188
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,634,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A nerve-wracking saga in which life and death depend on a capricious fate...absorbing lucidity...vivid portraits...simple moral vision that resonates--'I met enough decent, brave, and noble Germans and Latvians during the war to be immunized against prejudice'. A testament of remarkable clarity and humanity...." Kirkus Reviews

From the Author

When Stalin brutally seized Latvia--my country--in June 1940, I was one of many Latvian patriots alarmed at this perfidious aggression. I narrowly escaped deportation to the USSR on 14 June 1941. But a few days later, when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union and swiftly drove the Red Army out of Latvia, I became one of 90,000 Latvian Jews who suddenly faced death. The Holocaust began at once. Jews were shot by tens, hundreds, and thousands. Only 2% survived the Nazi occupation. 

My father invented an audacious bluff to save his wife and sons--though not himself. My mother was to claim that she was a German foundling raised by Jewish parents. At best this bluff would last a few months, as too many people in our town (Liepāja, pop. 57,000) knew our family. Against all odds, we managed to stretch it out for nearly 2 years, followed by a few years in legal limbo when my mother and I "slipped through cracks in the Holocaust", though my father, brother, and 24 other relatives perished. When the Red Army reentered Latvia in 1944, we fled to Germany with 100,000 others who also thought that one year under Stalin was enough. 

This book covers only my years in Europe (1926-1949), prior to my emigration to the US. Part I is my survival story. Part II is my attempt as a scientist to give a dispassionate objective analysis of Latvian conduct during the German occupation. I show that most Latvians deplored the German-led Holocaust murders in which a few thousand Latvians participated.

This book is also available in Latvian and Russian translations by Jumava Publishers, Riga, Latvia (ISBN 978-9984-38-915-8 and 978-9984-38-916-5).

More About the Author

~~When Stalin brutally seized Latvia--my country--in June 1940, I was one of many Latvian patriots alarmed at this perfidious aggression. I narrowly escaped deportation to the USSR on 14 June 1941. But a few days later when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union and swiftly drove the Red Army out of Latvia, I became one of 90,000 Latvian Jews who suddenly faced death. The Holocaust began at once. Jews were shot by tens, hundreds, and thousands. Only 2% survived the Nazi occupation.
~~ My father invented an audacious bluff to save his wife and sons--though not himself. My mother was to claim that she was a German foundling raised by Jewish parents. At best this bluff would last a few months, as too many people in our town (Liepāja, pop. 57,000) knew our family. Against all odds, we managed to stretch it out for nearly 2 years, followed by a few years in legal limbo when my mother and I "slipped through cracks in the Holocaust", though my father, brother, and 24 other relatives perished. When the Red Army reentered Latvia in 1944, we fled to Germany with 100,000 others who thought that one year under Stalin was enough.
~~Not having been in ghettos or camps, I evaded the horrendous suffering of most other survivors and was able to watch events from a unique vantage point. Living and working among ordinary people, I saw their responses to the war, the Nazi occupation, and the Holocaust. I saw shades of gray where some others--and the Moscow propaganda machine--see only pitch black.
~~This book covers only my years in Europe (1926-1949), prior to my emigration to the US. Part I is my survival story. Part II is my attempt as a scientist to give a dispassionate, objective analysis of Latvian conduct during the German occupation. There I show that the ugly stereotypes about them are based on a badly distorted reading of the historical record. Most Latvians deplored the German-led Holocaust murders in which a few thousand Latvians participated. The Latvian Legion, often confused with these murder units, did not even exist at the time of these murders, being formed by conscription only in 1943 to keep the Red Army out of Latvia. It fought not for Hitler but against Stalin.

Customer Reviews

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Mr. Anders has given a great contribution to intelligent assessment and in-depth understanding of this unpleasant subject.
M
The author, who did finally escape with his mother, tells an even-handed story of heroes and villains, good and evil, and the survival of people against all odds.
Lora
Throughout his book, the author's quandary with his ethnic Hebrew roots over his birth-right re-emerges, of being a Jew rather than a Latvian Hebrew.
Vilnis Neilands

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Edward Olsen on June 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a true story that reads, nevertheless, much like a novel. It is the story of a Latvian Jewish family, only two members of which - a mother and son - were able to escape the Holocaust by a combination of boldness, the incredible acting ability of the mother, and sheer luck. I say that it reads like a novel for there were many cliff-hanging moments when it seemed that all was going to be lost. The many zig-zags between and around bureaucratic officials afforded the son (the author) a unique perspective on the actions of the occupiers and the civilians who were being occupied. It presents a nuanced view of the kinds of individuals, good, bad and indifferent among the occupiers and the occupied. This differs from the retrospective view, mainly from outsiders, that within this occupied country only victims and evil individuals existed. It is an amazing story of resourcefulness under shifting circumstances - and a whole lot of luck.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vilnis Neilands on January 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amidst Latvians During the Holocaust by Edward Anders is weightier than it's outward appearance inviting much consideration.

The book is of biographical reflection, of Mr. Anders' birth and life in Latvia and subsequent exile and emigration to the United States. It highlights a frank and frontal discourse regarding the murder of Jews in Latvia during the second world war and the author's subsequent efforts to not only memorialize those lost but bring their murderers to justice. Truly commendable work.

Though the historical overview was revealing, it lacked the visceral grasp that living "amidst" misses and that only an upbringing and immersion in true Latvian ethnic culture can provide.

The Latvian historical record is replete with self preservation against invaders seeking her warm water ports. From Viking raids to Teutonic Knights to Napoleon to Germans, Russians, Poles and even Swedes. All subjected Latvians to centuries of cultural and territorial subjugation under the thumbs of succeeding overlords. Jewish inhabitants since the late middle ages, due to their God given talents and abilities in artisanship, merchantilism and finance thrived and often rose to prominence among the ruling class. What was salient to Latvia's serfs was not their overlord's ethnicity nor religion but rather the slave-like treatment the locals were being subjected to. The vestiges of such abuse at the hand of Mr. Ander's own family even as late as the second world war confused and troubled the author.

Spurred by the class struggles of others in their midst as France and Russia, the Latvian commoners threw off the yoke of their subjugation and declared independence during the first world war.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lora on June 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Much fiction pales by comparison to this true account of life in, and escape from, the Latvian Holocaust. The author, who did finally escape with his mother, tells an even-handed story of heroes and villains, good and evil, and the survival of people against all odds. The often unbelievably heroic efforts of ordinary Latvians to help Jews to survive the Russian and German occupations are a fascinating part of this engrossing book.
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This is a must-read! It's important for everyone not only those researching WWII (or Holocaust in Baltic states). While so many books analyzing WW II events in the Baltic states have got it wrong and demonstrate poor understanding of facts and eyewitness testimonies, this book is an amazing autobiography plus an EVEN-HANDED analysis of what actually happened during the Soviet and Nazi occupied Latvia (and Baltics). The tragedy is not only that something so outrageous and atrocious could happen in 20th century and so many people let it happen (I don't mean only Europe here). It's beyond understanding that even nowadays many historical facts are being ignored and the history "rewritten by the victor" is favoured putting blame and pointing fingers at whoever the "winners of the war" wishes. Besides, Holocaust and guilt industry works hard to keep this going.
How many of you even know that the Second world war ended only around 1990s when Germany got united again (at the time Germany signed the peace treaty it did not have the same political status when it declared the war). I hope the humankind will wise up soon and stop cultivating stereotypes and lies that have been around for far too long. Mr. Anders has given a great contribution to intelligent assessment and in-depth understanding of this unpleasant subject. "Crimes are committed by individuals not by nations". Let it be heard!
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