Bookmarked: Lawrence Bell

Recommends: “The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught in Between” by Michael Dobbs

His Take:

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society is engaged in a capital campaign to create a permanent Holocaust education center here in the Valley. This new project will teach students and the public about the Holocaust and other closely related topics through the eyes of survivors who witnessed them.

With this in mind, I recommend ‘The Unwanted’ by Michael Dobbs. This rich history examines the experiences of the Jews of Kippenheim, a small town in southwestern Germany, which had the ignominious distinction in 1940 of being the first region of the Third Reich to become officially judenrein, or cleansed of Jews. Because the Jews of Kippenheim were deported from Germany before the creation of death camps in the east, they were sent to newly conquered France, where French authorities interned them in the Vichy-controlled region. Both in Germany and in France, the refugees desperately applied for American immigration visas, but were denied by State Department officials who considered them to be racially undesirable, and who feared that admitting some refugees would open the floodgates to millions more. Finally, in the summer of 1942, the remainder of this small community was deported to Auschwitz, where they were murdered by gas, shooting and starvation.

Dobbs does a remarkable job of humanizing the experiences of this distinct community. From the terror of Kristallnacht in 1938 to the brutal deportation of these Jews from France to Auschwitz in 1942, the book offers a harrowing depiction of refugees’ experiences, as well as those of the various diplomats, aid workers and bystanders they encountered.

Nearly 80 years have passed since the end of World War II. Yet the Holocaust continues to have great relevance to our lives today. It stands as a warning for where hatred and intolerance can lead, and as a call against indifference to the suffering of others.”

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