Sunday, August 30, 2015

Black Earth - Timothy Snyder

FTC Compliance Statement: I received a free, time-limited, electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via in exchange for my honest review, which is provided below. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review in any way and my opinion is my own.

What are the odds that I would find a NetGalley book that perfectly fit my summer reading theme?This book, subtitled "The Holocaust as History and Warning," is a meticulously researched, scholarly look at the political roots of the Holocaust. It places the Final Solution into a context I hadn't seen examined before - the link between the Nazis' attempted destruction of states, such as Poland and Ukraine, and the deliberate stripping of the citizenship of Jewish people to render them more easily deported and murdered. There are a lot of useful notes, sources, and detailed maps that inform this conclusion. All in all this book provides a thorough take on the Holocaust from a socio-political point of view.

I do have one quibble, however. At one point the author specifically mentions Anne Frank and that her helpers survived, while Anne and her family and the others in hiding with them did not. This is true. However, he seems to imply that the helpers survived because they wouldn't have been prosecuted for hiding Jewish people in the Netherlands. This appears to overlook the fact that the two male helpers, Victor Kugler and Jo Kleiman, were indeed arrested along with the 8 people they had helped to hide, and both served time in prison and labor camps for hiding the Franks, the van Pelses, and Dr. Pfeffer. Kleiman was released after 6 weeks of imprisonment due to intervention by the Red Cross, as he had severe stomach ulcers. Kugler spent about 8 months in various labor camps, until he was able to escape one during a bombing raid and make his way home, where he hid until the Allied liberation. So people were indeed prosecuted for hiding and helping Jewish people. Maybe this is some kind of misunderstanding on my part - ? I just thought it was a bit misleading.

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