The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews First Edition
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"Part memoir, part prosecutorial brief, The Holocaust by Bullets tells a compelling story in which a priest unconnected by heritage or history is so moved by an injustice he sets out to right a daunting wrong…One might think Holocaust history has been exhausted, but Desbois breaks real news about how an emerging democracy in the New Europe still hasn’t emerged from World War II. We have witnessed a decade of forensic excavations documenting genocides in Guatemala, Bosnia and Rwanda, but only now are these same tools being used to find the murdered Jews of Ukraine, thanks in large part to Desbois." – The Miami Herald
"One of the most moving, troubling and insightful books on the Holocaust, or for that matter any other subject, that I have ever read." --Eugene J. Fischer, The Catholic Review
"Using a diverse team consisting of a researcher, photographer, interpreter, and ballistics expert, Desbois endeavored to uncover these burial sites and the brutal stories behind them. He uses ample testimony from those who may have witnessed key parts of this brutal process, and he makes some surprising discoveries. The narrative flows because Desbois has such a passion for his subject; he writes simply and well, so that even readers with little initial understanding will learn a lot. The result is an outstanding contribution to Holocaust literature, uncovering new dimensions of the tragedy, and should be on the shelves of even the smallest library. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred review
"An important addition to studies of the Shoah, agonizing to read and utterly necessary." -- Kirkus Reviews
"[T]his modest Roman Catholic priest from Paris, without using much more than his calm voice and Roman collar, has shattered the silence surrounding a largely untold chapter of the Holocaust when Nazis killed 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine from 1941 to 1944." -- The Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Patrick Desbois is secretary to the French Conference of Bishops for relations with Judaism, advisor to the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyon and advisor to the Vatican on the Jewish religion. Grandson of a deportee to the Rawa Ruska camp, he has set out to investigate the mass murder of Eastern European Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War. He is the winner of the B'nai B'rith International Award for Outstanding Contribution to Relations with the Jewish People. He lives in Paris, France.
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I hope you will buy this book and read it. It is really quite well done, and easily read. I kept imagining it as being used as a school textbook, it ought to be. I won't be forgetting this book for a long time, if ever.
This accounting also shows the Holocaust was more than gas chambers and crematoria; that such death technology is not necessary for the spirit of genocide to flourish. It's sad but true, however, that if Hitler's armies had confined themselves to "body count" field killing they likely could have gotten away with it, chucked down the official Orwellian Memory Hole like My Lai.
In that regard there seems some desire here to sidestep the doings of Ukrainian collaborators. The elderly witnesses interviewed are always sympathetic: supposedly they feel the tragedy imposed upon their Jewish neighbors, as upon themselves, as co-victims of Nazi-occupied Ukraine. We know that is not the full story of this time and place. Fr. Desbois is doubtless working in a spirit of Ukrainian-Jewish reconciliation, under the moral authority of the West.
But his work shows that the facts themselves are unchallengeable; the truth is still out there, buried in the ground, awaiting light. The soil "still breathes."
Top international reviews
Anyone interested in what the evidence is for what the SS did in the parts of the Soviet Union they occupied will find this book worthwhile.
My only complaint, the only thing that prevents me from giving this well written work 5 stars, is that Desbois talks about himself too much. The book is, after all an account of the mass shootings of Jews, not an autobiography.
It is really captivating and it sheds a light from a different angle on the whole WW2 development. Gives you the chills sometimes