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Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining for Lives in the Holocaust Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 7, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020729
  • ASIN: B0043RTA3Y
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a taut, detailed narrative, historian Florence (A Blood Libel) relates Joel Brand's efforts to save Hungary's Jews from the Holocaust. In April 1944, Brand, a disheveled Jewish businessman was living in Budapest, working with fellow Zionists on a secret rescue committee. He met with notorious SS officer Adolf Eichmann (responsible for shipping Eastern European Jews to the death camps), who offered to sell Brand the freedom of almost a million Hungarian Jews for 10,000 heavy-duty military trucks. With this offer, Brand contacted the Allies and the Jewish Agency in Palestine. The Jewish Agency's Moshe Shertok, though incredulous, presented the proposal to the British high commissioner in Palestine, who asserted Eichmann's proposal was another Nazi intrigue and Brand a Nazi agent. Brand was eventually jailed in Cairo by the British. Some questioned Brand's competence, but Brand himself always believed his mission had been betrayed by Jewish Agency officials who couldn't grasp the reality of the Final Solution. Although Brand's story is known—particularly through his testimony in two postwar trials (including Eichmann's in 1961), Florence (Lawrence and Aaronsohn) paints a colorful but dispiriting tale of mankind's gross inhumanity. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Until March 1944, the Jews of Hungary enjoyed relative physical security, although Hungary was an ally of the Axis powers. In fact, Hungarian Jews managed to save thousands of their brethren from other central and eastern European countries by smuggling them into (and sometimes out of) Hungary. When German troops invaded, they brought intense pressure on the Hungarian government to round up Jews and transport them for “resettlement.” Thus began a valiant if largely futile effort to rescue them. Florence, a historian and novelist, recounts this struggle in a riveting and intense work. At the center of the narrative is an unlikely hero. Joel Brand was a former communist, a committed Zionist, and physically unimpressive. Yet he brought great energy to efforts to bargain with Hungarian and German officials to “ransom” Jews, exchanging their lives for material aid for the Axis cause. He did so despite the opposition of the British and American governments, leaving a legacy of bitterness that still persists. This is a fine examination of one of the saddest episodes of the Holocaust. --Jay Freeman

More About the Author

Ronald Florence was born in California, educated at Berkeley and Harvard, and taught at colleges and universities, ran a foundation, raced sailboats, and raised Cotswold sheep before turning to full-time writing. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and travels frequently to Europe and the Middle East to research his novels and narrative histories.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rooney on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Emissary Of The Doomed" by Ronald Florence. Viking, New York 2010.
Subtitled: "Bargaining For Lives In The Holocaust"

History can be taught as the struggle between scoundrels and heroes. In this book, the principal scoundrel in this book is Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962). (Yes, Hitler and Himmler were lurking as historical background scoundrels.) The unlikely hero is a Jew, Joel Brand (1906-1964). Joel Brand is the "Emissary of the doomed." Eichmann was executed by the Israelis in 1962. Joel Brand died in 1964, possibly done in by alcoholism brought on by these experiences, recorded in this book, in negotiating with the Nazis for the Hungarian Jews.

In 1944, as World War II was in its final throes, almost a million Jews remained "untouched" in Hungary. Many of the Jews were in the capital city of Budapest, where Joel Brand liked to frequent the cafes. He was known as a deal maker. As a man about town, Joel Brand was invited to meet with Adolf Eichmann who wanted to make a deal. Eichmann wanted to trade the lives of the Hungarian Jews for ??! It does seem that the deal, "blood for goods", was supported by at least some of the Nazi hierarchy. The book's author, Ronald Florence, does not truly explain the motives of Eichmann. In a seemly off-hand manner, Eichmann demanded 10,000 heavy duty trucks in exchange for the Jews of Hungary. The book makes it appear that Eichmann picked the number of trucks and the idea of heavy duty trucks, out of the air.

Just about the time this deal-making commenced, (April 1944), the Jews in Hungary had become of aware of the "Auschwitz Protocols", which was a report of the horrors actually occurring in that concentration camp. (See, for example, page 18). The camps were death camps.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. Brauer on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Emissary of the Doomed is a tribute to Joel Brand, an ordinary man who tried to do the impossible - bargaining with the Nazis to save Hungarian Jews from annihilation in Auschwitz.
In March 1944, several weeks into the Nazi takeover of Hungary, Adolf Eichmann, the architect of mass deportation of European Jews to Auschwitz, made a bizarre proposal to Joel Brand a member of the Zionist Rescue Committee (Vaadat Ezrah VeHazala) in Budapest. He was ready to swap one million Hungarian Jews for 10,000 military trucks. As was later confirmed, the proposal actually came from Eichmann's boss, SS chief Heinrich Himmler. The deal, which Eichmann called "blood for goods", was a Nazi smokescreen made to cover a real attempt to begin negotiations on a separate peace agreement with the USA and Great Britain. Joel Brand, who as a member of the Vaada, had previous contacts with Nazis, was ordered by Eichmann to take the proposal to representatives of the Jewish Agency in Istanbul. The JA, in turn, was supposed to take the proposal further to the Allies. Eichmann promised to delay deportations to Auschwitz for the duration of negotiations, but, in reality, the deportations started on May 15, 1944 - two days before Brand left for Istanbul.
Brand's message was met with confusion and disbelief by the JA representatives in Istanbul and by the Zionist leadership in Palestine. The Agency was not an independent body, it answered to the British Mandatory government in Palestine. It contacted the Brits, who refused to respond to the proposal fearing it would alienate the Russian allies. They also anticipated the Arab outrage should the liberated Jews head to the only country open for them - Palestine.
Brand's mission failed. He was detained by British in Cairo till October 1944.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anna V. Carroll on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book on amazon.com as a result of reading Tivadar Soros' book, MASKERADO-Dancing Around Death In Nazi Hungary. A must read. I knew nothing of the Hungarian Jews in WWII and his book introduced me to what their lives were like when the Nazis invaded the country.

That book led me to numerous other books on the men in charge (from Germany) of the Hungarian Jews. Eichmann, Himmler, I knew from history books 50 years ago. EMISSARY OF THE DOOMED by Ronald Florence opened the door all the way. This book is so well-written and so well-documented there is little room for me to doubt the authenticity of what he writes about from that period of time. The day the Jews in Budapest had to begin wearing the yellow Star of David on their clothes was two days before my second birthday!

Hungarian men that I, as a non-Jew, never heard of vividly come to life in this story. Joel Brand would have been made a Saint by the Catholic Church had he been Catholic. Amazing, amazing bravery and the deepest possible love for his fellow Jews. I usually finish a book in a day or two, but I lingered over this book for days and days. I made notes. I memorized passages. This book answers so many questions I have had over the decades about why the Nazis got away with murdering millions of Jews, Christians, Gypsies, and other 'undesirables.'

This book led me to Anna Porter's KASZTNER'S TRAIN about one of the key players in Florence's book. He, along with Brand, met with Eichmann in Hungary to find a way to buy the lives of as many Jews as possible. Eichmann tells Brand that if he can get 10,000 trucks from the British or US, he will spare the lives of a million Jews. Brand is not a politician or government official. How can he possibly do this? The book gives you the answers.
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