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The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis Hardcover – June 26, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0415124553 ISBN-10: 0415124557 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

In this revisionist history Rubinstein (History/Univ. of Wales, Aberystwyth) sets out to debunk as ``illogical and ahistorical'' the work of several established historians who raise the question of Allied culpability during the Holocaust. The key issues involve closed-door immigration policies that turned central and eastern European Jewish refugee movements into one long Voyage of the Damned; discussed but never executed attempts to bomb the railway lines to such concentration camps as Auschwitz; and aborted financial negotiations to ransom Jewish lives. Rubinstein's major thesis is that Hitler was too committed to genocide to be distracted by such efforts, but the author should have presented more documentation to prove that the Allies did what they could once they confirmed the reality of the Final Solution. His thesis is further weakened by many diversionary tactics, such as the presentation of Gallup polls showing that 80 percent of wartime Americans opposed anti-Semitism (but nearly 68 percent opposed immigration). The data in no way relieve the US State Department, Great Britain, and organizations like the Red Cross of culpability in not minimizing the number of Holocaust victims. Such serious charges as those in in Lucy Dawidowicz's work, that German extermination trains and railways were repeatedly spared by Allied bombers, are not addressed. There is too much here on what we already knew, such as that ``the Jews were the central obsession of Hitler's life,'' and too little on the paucity of efforts to save Jews in Europe during the war. Some valuable historical modifications may be lost due to a tone and strategy that make the author sound too much like an apologist for the Allies' inaction. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


The Myth of Rescue, written by a scholar who specializes in modern Jewish history, offers a comprehensive and iconoclastic look at the diplomatic, political, and military initiatives that were undertaken to assist Europe's Jewish population before and during World War II.
Parameters, Spring 1999

Rubinstein has written a highly controversial and contentious book that is certain to anger many who have formed their views on America's response to the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the book should be welcomed if only to remind us that the responsibility for the Holocaust lies solely and wholly with Hitler, the SS and their accomplices.
Jewish Exponent, 3/12/98

[A] persuasive account of the issues surrounding the question of rescue, in which Rubinstein challenges the major scholarly works dealing the with Allied response to the Holocaust.
Congress Monthly, M/A 98

It is, in short, an important and courageous book....William Rubensteins' powerful brief against such excesses will, one hopes, be instrumental in restoring intellectual rigor and responsiblity to the continuing discussion on this aspect of the Holocaust.
First Things, 2/98

Meticulously constructed and well documented....
PS, 8/97

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1st edition (June 26, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415124557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415124553
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Derek Copold on October 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Rubenstein does yeoman work in deflating the wild claims of post-Holocaust "Blamers." Through meticulous use of raw numbers and the context of the time, William Rubenstein demonstrates that, despite claims to the contrary, there wasn't anything the Allied powers could do to end the Holocaust save win the war. Rubenstein uses immigration numbers from around the globe to show that the world was extremely receptive of German Jews leaving repression from 1933-39. (72% of German Jews escaped Hitler's reich.) Once the war began, not one Jew who escaped Axis territory was returned to his country of origin. Treatment of escapees was not golden, but, as Rubenstein points out, that is another issue. Once war broke out, Rubenstein again shows that all that could be done by the allied powers was done. Armchair generals who offhandedly toss out suggestions that Auschwitz could be bombed should pay special attention to Rubenstein's chapter on this impossibility. Rubenstein is not a revisionist. He does not deny the Holocaust or any of the horrors that were thoroughly documented by the Allies after the war. What he does do, though, is place the blame where it belongs. With Hitler and his subordinates.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A welcome breath of fresh air on this subject, pointing out among many other things that by the time many Jews wanted to leave Germany and/or Europe, the problem was not that other countries would not let them in, but that HITLER WOULD NOT PERMIT THEM TO LEAVE. The book includes an excellent discussion of the possibility of bombing Auschwitz, pointing out among other things that for most of the war Allied aircraft were not within flying range of Auschwitz. The book is also very good in pointing out the error of confusing what we know about the camps now with what was known during World War II. An example of this is another (editorial) review of this same book which states flatly that Allied planes routinely spared deportation trains from being bombed. How were allied airmen supposed to know, from mid-air, that they WERE deportation trains? Rubinstein points out that the aerial photographs that have been used over the years to "prove" that the US knew exactly what Auschwitz was were enhanced to that level of detail IN THE 1970S with photographic technology that was not available during World War II! He also explains that many Jews did leave Germany but CHOSE to go to other European countries closer to home (Holland, France). They never expected that both would be conquered by the Germans in a matter of weeks in 1940, trapping them under German rule. Rubinstein also provides many useful reminders, among all the anger directed at Britain and the US for not doing more, that the primary responsibility for the HOlocaust belongs, NOT to the US or Britain, but to Germany and ADOLF HITLER -- remember him, folks?
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Haim on February 24, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To someone like myself, who has been reading in military history for years, the assertion by stupid left-wing intellectuals, that the WWII Allies could have done something (but did not want to) about the Nazi death camps, other than defeat the German Army in the field, is preposterous on its face, beneath contempt, and deserves no reply. And yet, the Left proves, time and again, that no idea is too stupid to be incorporated into the socialist canon. For that reason alone, this hateful, destructive, anti-historical libel must be confronted.

Rubinstein does an excellent job confronting, and refuting, this scandalous defamation of the Allies' heroic sacrifices in WWII.

Rubinstein treats very well the purely military obstacles to Rescue. He then goes further to examine the historical record on who wrote and spoke on Jewish Rescue. I.e., not only does he treat the question of "what did they know and when did they know it", but he looks at what people, including leading Jewish intellectuals and Jewish organizations, were actually calling for, at the time.

Thus, this book is important in at least these two respects. First, it is an excellent investigation of one, small but important, neglected aspect of WWII historiography. Second, it sheds a harsh, revealing light on the internal contradictions of leftist intellectualism.

To anyone who cares about ideas, history, WWII, and the holocaust, this book is a must read.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
One of the most convincing facts presented by this book is the information on the accuracy of bomb hits by Allied bombers. From this, the author Rubinstein makes it clear that a bombing raid on Auschwitz, even if "successful" would more likely wipe out the barracks and kill many Jews (and Poles, along with inmates of other nationalities) without putting the gas chambers and crematoria out of commission. And, although the author mentions Babi Yar as proof that the Germans did not need death camps to make the Holocaust work, this could have been further developed. For instance, Albert Speer pointed out that, had the death camps been destroyed, all the Germans needed to do would be to revert to the pre-1942 method of killing Jews (and millions of gentiles also): Local roundups of victims with mass shootings on the outskirts of towns where they lived, followed by burial in mass graves (or mass cremations on pyres). Many other facts in this book could be expanded. For instance, accusations that the Polish Underground deliberately (because of alleged anti-Semitism) did not sabotage the rail lines leading to the death camps can be refuted by identical arguments against their bombings, as told by Rubinstein: Destroyed tracks can often be replaced in hours or days, and there are several alternative railroad routes to the death camps. In addition, many of the routes to Auschwitz do not even occur in German-occupied Polish territory. Finally, if the Polish Underground proved incapable of rescuing millions of Polish-gentile inmates from the German-Nazi concentration camps, it can hardly be argued that they deliberately avoided preventing the Holocaust of Jews.
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The Myth of Rescue: Why the Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis
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