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The Remnant: The Jewish Resistance in WWII Paperback – March 23, 2016
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About the Author
Othniel J. Seiden, or Otti as he prefers being called, typically takes on an interesting historic subject and studies it to find the most fascinating storyline. When doing the research for 'The Remnant,' however, Otti found that it wasn t just one story, but the mixture of the stories of the survivors and their resistance work that really told the true story of the Free Jews of World War II and the part they played in bringing down the Third Reich. After researching the transcripts of the Nuremburg Trials and interviewing The Remnant or Jewish survivors of the holocaust; Otti was compelled to write their startling and remarkable stories of World War II while the remaining members of The Remnant were still alive. It is a stunning and compelling novel made of up the collection of stories of the Jews who were able to remain free and fight. Otti documents their escapes, their survival, their sacrifices, their suffering, their missions and their guerrilla warfare tactics against the Nazi occupation forces. Otti tells most of this story in the shadow of the atrocities of the now infamous Babi Yar ravine where it is thought that nearly a million people, Jews and non-Jews alike were massacred. Its existence was kept hidden for many years after the war by both the German and Russian interests. The brave few who escaped certain death here did so by acts of amazing bravery and sheer determination to live. Otti in this book, with these stories based on real people and historical transcripts, should dispel the myth that the Jewish people went to their deaths like sheep to slaughter... The Remnant and their incredible stories will erase that perception forever!
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In general, I do not approve of fiction when it comes to the Holocaust. Let me tell you why. This is an event that must never be forgotten, an event that some (all too many) deny ever happened, even with many survivors and combatants on both sides still alive. So, when I hear about something like "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas", first presented as a real event, then later declared to be a complete fiction by the authors themselves, I cringe. It will not be long before all of the direct witnesses have passed. Even my generation, the ones who heard the stories first hand, who saw the tattoos, who have walked the remnants of the battlegrounds, are getting on up there. Before too long, there will be nothing to witness except words written in a book. Those words must be truth, not fantasy. Otherwise, in 25 or 30 or 40 years people can simply point to a stack of made up books and say "see - all fiction - never happened."
There are some cases, though, where a story is important to tell even if it must be told through the medium of fiction because there are no longer living witnesses - or perhaps never were. One of those stories is the roundup,subsequent abandonment and final shipment to Auschwitz of more than 4,000 children in the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris, an action carried out by the French police on Petain's orders. There were few survivors - a mere handful - and most of those were young children at the time. Tatiana de Rosney does an excellent job of telling the story of this horrific event in Sarah's Key.
Until very recently even the fact that there WERE Jewish partisans was not particularly well known, at least not in popular mediums. Leon Uris talks about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in Exodus. Rudi Weiss joins the Jewish partisans in Holocaust. Only in the last few years has the story of the Bielski Brothers - The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews and Defiance - truly documented the Jewish Resistance. As heroic as the Bielskis were, their group was not the only Jewish resistance group. It is vitally important that a couple of decades from now, when all who were there to witness or spoke to those who witnessed are gone, that people know that everyone did not march quietly to the slaughter like so many sheep, that the Bielskis were neither alone in their resistance nor an aberration. There is room in the historical record for The Remnant - Stories of the Jewish Resistance in WWII.
Othniel Seiden's story has its foundations in a great deal of research - interviews, records of the Nuremberg proceedings, diaries left behind by those who lived these events - and he has done a remarkable job of presenting characters that are accurate & compelling composites.
Some have commented negatively on his portrayal of the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Hitler's Final Solution, particularly as regards the Pope in office at the time of World War II, a role that has been the subject of great debate over the years, debate that is not yet entirely settled. The basic facts that Seiden addresses in this regard - that the Catholic Church had a pact with Hitler and that the Vatican helped thousands of Nazis to escape Europe at the end of World War II - are grounded in known, demonstrable facts. It is only since the papacy of Pope John Paul II, himself a Polish seminary student during World War II, that there has been some attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Pope Pius XII regarding his actions towards the Nazis and the "Final Solution." Had Seiden chosen to present this rehabilitative material, information that would have been unknown to the characters at the time during which these events occurred, would be to rewrite history. That would be a grave error.
Highly recommended. This is worth your time to read.
The story turns into a thriller of ‘cat and mouse’ as the Nazis, determined to find the partisans, and the partisans together with Christian friends, determined to survive, match wits. Seiben’s thorough account includes information of Jewish history before the war, graphic details of Nazi atrocities during the war, details of historic events after the war and explains the roots of anti-Semitism.
This is a hard read if you have any empathy or sympathy for people, not only Jews, but Gypsies,Communists, political prisoners, general populations of occupied countries were always at risk the the list goes on who were ruthlessly murdered by the Nazis. Reading of the horror that the Jews went through, I took away the reality of the incredible blessing of freedom that I enjoy.
Politicians, some of which have charisma, an ability to mesmerize, excite with their words are to be regarded with suspicion. To vote on the basis of excitement and charisma can have many unintended consequences as was the case with Hitler. This despot had it all figured out with a subsequent loss of freedoms and other horrific outcomes for millions.
Read this book, understand what the Jews have gone through for hundreds of years, and for the first time in my life I have really thought about the circumstances surrounding the gathering of the Jews in Palestine which became Israel in 1948. I have been to Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The Jews have made the desert bloom, Lebanon and Syria, no comparison. What the Jews needed was a gathering place, they have it and I am grateful.