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Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946 Hardcover – April 13, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tracking the plight of refugee Jews during and after the Nazi era, the authors of Auschwitz offer a comprehensive survey of various countries' responses to the refugee crisis and their often self-serving motives America, fearing immigrants would become public charges, required financial affidavits from American family or friends, which proved insurmountable for most European Jews. Britain granted visas to Jews of international repute, such as Sigmund Freud, but to only 50 Jews with licenses to practice medicine and 14,000 Jewish women willing to work as domestic servants. Eager to increase its white population, a racist Dominican Republic allowed healthy young refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to work on large-scale agricultural colonies. Internment camps in the Soviet Union offered a chance for survival while detention camps in France were conduits to the concentration camps and death. The establishment of the state of Israel resolved postwar Jewish refugee problems but ironically triggered an immediate Jewish refugee flood from Muslim countries. Although well researched and written, this work's specialized focus deems it more appropriate for academics and others with a special interest in the Holocaust or refugee policy. 50 photos, 2 maps. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Most Holocaust studies understandably focus on the plight of the victims in death camps and those who suffered the outrages committed by special SS units as the Wehrmacht rampaged across Eastern Europe. Here, the authors shed light on Jews who attempted to escape the fate that their tormentors planned. Beginning with the Nazi ascension to power in 1933, many German Jews saw the writing on the wall. Their emigration was surprisingly orderly, and was facilitated by “cooperative” German officials. The fortunate ones found refuge in Britain, the U.S., and Palestine. Others, like the family of Anne Frank, fled to soon-to-be occupied nations, including the Netherlands and France. As Dwork and van Pelt chillingly recount, orderly emigration soon gave way to panicky flight as Nazi persecution increased and windows closed in various nations that had seemed receptive. There are heroes here, including Gentiles who sheltered and smuggled Jews, and villains who knowingly denied Jews a safe haven and condemned them to certain extinction. This is an excellent examination of a rarely emphasized aspect of the Holocaust. --Jay Freeman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (April 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393062295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062298
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Hyman VINE VOICE on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those rare, beautifully written books where you learn something new on each page, and, despite the tragic subject matter, can't wait for the next page. Normally I don't like to take hardcover books on a plane, but I started it before a trip and couldn't put it down.

I have read many books about the Holocaust, and along with the Black Book and Fear, view this as a critical book to help one's broader understanding of what happened.

This book is different than the many other books on the Holocaust that I have read, in that it focuses not on what happened to those who perished as the hands of the fascists, but what happened to those who tried to escape from the ever expanding reach of the Nazis as they conquered Europe.

Rather than taking a dry approach, it illuminates the history through the lives of individuals, so you are able to appreciate and understand the human tragedy and horror of the situation, as well as the overall political climate and history.

This does not mean that the book is lightweight. It is scholarly, with endless footnotes and references, and a detailed view of the politics and the politicians, but it is approachable and human and fascinating throughout.

We all too readily whitewash history, as the victors, to view the Holocaust as being evil (Nazis) and good (Allies), but this book shows the broad anti-semitism that was omnipresent on both sides. It shows how in the early phases, the Nazis tried to export the Jews to other countries, none of whom (including the US, England and France) would accept them, and instead actively prevented Jews from escaping from certain death. And it shows how the politics and situation on the ground changed throughout the pre-war and war.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By shanarufus on July 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had read Children with a Star many many years ago and remember how excited I was: this was new history being written, history being written about a subject not tackled until Dwork did it--specifically the children. And again, now, she takes a 13 year history and turns it on its side to present a facet that has not been written about before in such extraordinary and reader-accessible detail.

I knew about Sugihara and the 2000 transit visas this compassionate Japanese man gave to people. I knew about Shanghai, had read a wonderful memoir plus saw Shanghai Ghetto and Port of Last Resort. I knew about the kinder transports. I knew about Catholic nuns hiding Jewish children, in Chabannes for example. I knew about Denmark, and even Bulgaria (but that was anti-Nazi, not pro-Jewish). But Dwork adds to this the passeurs, the underground railroads that existed in several countries, the constantly-changing regulations year by year and even month by month within Germany and Austria and other countries overrun by the Nazis.

It amazes me to write this next sentence: The Final Solution as a linguistic term is based on attempts to force Jews out of Germany and the greater Reich--to solve the Jewish question. And for many reasons these attempts failed. The main reason, of course, is that no countries wanted these people, these penniless refugees, stateless, surely bound to be dependent. The annihilation machine in the death camps was the result of all other attempted/failed solutions to make Europe judenrein was the final solution.

Reading this was a thrilling experience. I have read hundreds of Holocaust-related histories, essays, memoirs, novels, plays, and seen at least a hundred documentary and fiction films. And this book was so thrilling because it gave me so much new insight and knowledge.

I can't rave enough. Extraordinary scholarship--highly readable, the best that history writing can be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. S. BELL on December 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is one that you need to sit down with and contemplate--While reading, I realized that I lived through most of this happening but was unaware of it. It makes one very aware of what happened and the necessity of really "knowing" what is going on around you from day to day. It is important that we remember that the "Holocost" did happen and do our part so that it won't happen again. We need to pray for our nation to be a good example to other countries and try to work out problems that our world is in at this particular time in life.
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