By: Dr. Frances G. Sternberg, MCHE
On the night of May 10, 1933, less than six months after Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had come to power, right-wing students in 34 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit” and called for Nazi officials, university faculty and chaplains, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. Then, singing songs and taking “fire oaths” as band music played, in large open-air bonfires, the students burned thousands of “un-German books,” taken in raids on public and university libraries, private collections, and bookstores. The events also received widespread media attention – not only newspaper coverage, but also “live” radio broadcasts of the songs and speeches.
These seemingly “spontaneous” demonstrations were actually carefully orchestrated by Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, as part of the Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung (“synchronization”), which sought to align all elements of German society, polity, and culture with Nazi ideology by purging them of Jews and those considered “politically suspect” and by defining their work as “degenerate.”
This policy was fully supported by “National Socialist German Students Association” (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, or NSDStB). After World War I, the membership of numerous secular student organizations was largely ultra-nationalist, ultra-conservative and antisemitic; and in the 1920s, university students were among the Nazis’ earliest and most fervent supporters, using Nazism to express their discontent and hostility to the Weimar Republic and playing key roles in Nazi activities.
The NSDStB also played a key role in the book burnings. On April 6, 1933, the NSDStB Office for Press and Propaganda called for a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit” on May 10 that would end in “cleansing” (Säuberung) by fire. Local NSDStB chapters provided newspaper articles and press releases, bought radio air time, sponsored Nazi officials as public speakers, and – most critically – supplied lists of “un-German” authors. On April 8, claiming that the “Action” would affirm traditional “German values” in the face of a global Jewish “smear campaign” against Germany, the students’ association unveiled its “12 Theses” – a mission statement for the demonstrations – that asserted the need to “purify” German language and literature, attacked “Jewish intellectualism,” and demanded that universities serve as centers of German nationalism.
In this context, on May 10, more than 25,000 books were burned: books by authors considered “socialists” and “communists” such as Bertolt Brecht and Karl Marx; books by critical “bourgeois” writers like Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler; anti-fascist critics like Nobel laureate Thomas Mann; books by anti-war proponents like Erich Maria Remarque who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front; books by “corrupting foreign influences” like Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, and Helen Keller, whose commitment to social justice made her a champion for the disabled, for pacifism, for improved conditions for industrial workers, and for women’s suffrage; and books by Jewish authors, many of whom were among the most famous writers of the day, such as Franz Werfel, Max Brod, and Stefan Zweig.
Also among those works were burned was the nineteenth-century German poet Heinrich Heine, who was born Jewish but who had converted to Christianity and who in 1821 had written – so presciently – the often quoted “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen“: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”
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Sixty-five years ago, when the Germans entered Hungary on March 19, 1944, Hungarian Jewry was the last intact Jewish community in occupied Europe. In April, the Jews were forced into a network of ghettos organized throughout the country. Between May 14 and July 9 – in less than two months and on the very eve of Allied victory – more than 400,000 Jewish men, women, and children were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau at the rate of 12,000 to 14,000 per day, where 75 percent were murdered immediately on arrival.
Such swift, concentrated destruction could not have happened without the help of local collaborators. These included the government bureaucracies, the right wing parties, and the law-enforcement agencies, bolstered by the tacit approval of most non-Jews and Church authorities.
The Vatican, the International Red Cross, the Allies, and the neutral powers also had a role in the catastrophe, since it took place when details of the “Final Solution” – especially the Hungarian situation – were already known to them. In summer 1944, at the height of the deportations, the Allies rejected Jewish underground leaders’ pleas to bomb Auschwitz and the rail lines leading to it, claiming that bombers flying from Britain were incapable of attacking Poland and could not be diverted to targets not “military related.” To be sure, pressure from President Roosevelt, Sweden’s king, and the pope – combined with the success of Operation Overlord, the Soviet Union’s summer offensive, and Allied intimations they would carpet-bomb Budapest if its Jews were deported – did force Regent Miklos Horthy to stop the trains on July 7, 1944. However, it was too late to save the provincial Jews and it did not prevent the violently antisemitic Arrow Cross Party from massacring hundreds of Budapest’s Jews.
In the end – abandoned and defenseless, without allies or any real recourse – Hungary’s Jews were completely unaware of what lay ahead. Of approximately 825,000 Jews living in Hungary in 1941, only about 255,000 survived the Holocaust.
Seventy years ago, when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, more than 3 million Jewish men, women and children lived there. It was the world’s largest Jewish community – one-fifth of world Jewry.
By October, Poland had been defeated and dismembered. Germany annexed western Poland directly into the Reich, the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland, and the remainder of German-occupied Poland (including the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Radom, and Lublin) was organized as a German-occupied territory – the “General Government” – under a civilian governor general, Hans Frank.
Within weeks of their invasion, the Germans began to implement severe anti-Jewish measures. Jewish intellectuals, community leaders, potential leaders, and ordinary individuals were brutalized, arrested, and often executed. Jews of all ages were forced onto labor details. They were ordered to wear identifying badges and were stripped of their livelihoods, their property, and most of their possessions. Then, giving people very little time to pack up and leave, the Germans forced all Jews and those they defined as Jews to give up their homes and move into ghettos, where they lived in isolation from the non-Jewish population under increasingly harsh conditions.
The Germans viewed the ghettos as a provisional measure to control and segregate Polish Jewry while the leadership in Berlin considered how most effectively to implement their goal of removing the Jewish population from Europe – the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish problem.”
In spring and summer of 1942, the Germans began systematically destroying the ghettos. Along with their auxiliaries, they either shot many ghetto residents in mass graves or deported them to the six death camps established on Polish soil – Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek. By the end of 1943, most Polish Jews had been murdered. Only a few more than 300,000 survived the Holocaust.
“T-4” is the code name for the mass murder of institutionalized mentally and physically disabled German and Austrian adults and children labeled “life unworthy of life” by Hitler and the Nazis. The program was established in spring of 1939, when Hitler gave Philip Bouhler, chief of his private chancellery, and Karl Brandt, his attending physician, the task of organizing a secret killing operation targeting disabled children.
That August, physicians, nurses and midwives were ordered to report any severely mentally or physically disabled children under the age of three. In October, public health authorities began urging parents of such children to place them in specially designated pediatric clinics where – unknown to the families – they would be killed by overdoses of medication, lethal injections or starvation.
Soon, the program was widened to include children up to 17 years of age and then it was extended to adults. From their Berlin headquarters at Tiergartenstrasse 4 – a villa taken from a Jewish family (and the source of the code name) – Bouhler and Brandt oversaw the establishment of six killing facilities, five in Germany and one in Austria. There, victims were killed in carbon-monoxide gas chambers disguised as shower baths. Their bodies were burned in crematoria.
T-4 was served by the public health services and by specially recruited doctors and nurses. T-4 officials distributed questionnaires to public health officials, public and private hospitals, mental institutions and nursing homes for the chronically ill and aged. Teams of physicians evaluated the information, assessing the victims’ “ability to work” and identifying those with chronic psychiatric or neurological disorders (such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, dementia and encephalitis), those without “German” or “related” blood, the criminally insane, and those who had been institutionalized for more than five years.
Beginning in January 1940, based on these assessments, patients were transported by bus or train from their home institutions to the killing facilities. Afterward, their families were sent urns containing ashes from a common pile and death certificates with falsified causes and dates of death.
T-4 could not, however, be kept secret. In August 1941, in response to public and private protests, Hitler stopped it. That is, he stopped T-4, but the “euthanasia” killings continued into the last months of the war – more clandestine and decentralized and with less emphasis on gassing. They were also extended to the occupied eastern areas – Bohemia and Moravia, Poland, the Baltic States and the Soviet Union. Altogether, by 1945, the program claimed some 200,000 lives. It also provided the operational model for Hitler’s other genocidal policies – namely, the murder of the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) and the Jews.
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Railroads were a key feature of modern industrial society and culture. Starting in the mid-19th century, they expanded across Europe and the United States, as well as Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, forming vast networks that facilitated the rapid long distance transport of raw materials, goods and labor so necessary to the growth of the industrial process.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries and into the period between World War I and World War II, as railroad travel became more accessible and affordable, the trains brought the populations of the rural hinterlands and rapidly growing cities in closer contact with each other. This generated not only economic development, but also new residential patterns (suburbanization) and new travel patterns (tourism) and the rapid and widespread dissemination of new ideas and new cultural patterns.
Railroads were of strategic importance as well. Troop trains carried the thousands and then millions of men serving in the ever-growing armies and freight trains carried the tons of materials, weapons, and supplies necessary to field them. This was as true during the Civil War and the Boer War as it was during World War I and World War II.
Railroads also served the darker purposes of a variety of political authorities. In Russia, the Tsarist and Soviet governments used trains to move dissidents to penal camps in Siberia and what would become the Gulag, where they would effectively “disappear.” In Turkey, functionaries of the Ottoman Empire crammed Armenian men, women and children into freight cars and deported them, without food, water, or other amenities to their deaths in rough territory near the Syrian border. In the United States, during World War II, authorities transported more than 110,000 Japanese Americans from the west coast to detention camps in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
And during the Holocaust, the railroads became the single most significant factor in the expansion and radicalization of Adolf Hitler’s “solution to the Jewish problem.”
In the summer of 1941, two years after World War II began, Germany controlled a sizable territory that extended from Norway through Greece and from France into the western Soviet Union. During that summer, after the June invasion of the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler decided to murder all of Europe’s Jews – some 9 million men, women, and children. He charged Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, with the task of overseeing the genocide. Himmler delegated this task to SS General Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Main Office for Reich Security, who – in turn – brought on SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann as the “policy expert” on the Jews.
Over the next six months, the SS took certain crucial steps to facilitate the destruction process. It was decided that the victims would be asphyxiated by some form of poison gas; six death camps were established in Poland, where the murder would take place; and that the victims would be transported to their death by railroad.
To this end, the SS, worked closely with Albert Ganzenmuller, Secretary of State for the Reich Transportation Ministry, and with the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellshaft – the German State Railway Association, a state-owned, civilian-run for-profit agency, to develop a special fare structure for the transports. In 1941, when German Jews began to be transported to the ghettos in Poland and the occupied Soviet territories, the Reichsbahn offered the SS a half-price group rate based on occupancy levels of at least 400 individuals per transport. Thus, in order to save money, the SS filled the trains to extreme overcrowding with as many people as possible, often 1,000 to 2,000 victims per transport, and increasingly used freight cars rather than standard passenger trains. In 1942, the SS had to pay 0.04 Reichsmark (RM) for 1 adult per kilometer, 0.02 RM for children over 4, children under 4 were free. By then, trains with up to 60 freight cars, each transporting around 5,000 victims, were the norm; and, as the territory under German occupation expanded, they often incorporated the rolling stock of other national railways as well, such as France, Slovakia, and Hungary.
In addition to the SS, who planned and coordinated the deportations, a variety of other individuals were also involved in the organization and implementation of the transports. These people included the professional railroad staff, without which no transport could get underway, the local workers who maintained the rolling stock and the tracks, and the armed guards – German policeman, Ukrainian auxiliaries, and others – who accompanied the transports with orders to shoot anyone trying to escape. Another large group consisted of the many people who watched the trains pass – bystanders who were witnesses to the plight of the Jews.
For the perpetrators, the railroads were as essential to the genocide as the camp system itself. Indeed, between 1941 and 1944, historians estimate that the trains may have carried as many as three million Jews to the concentration and death camps. And because the perpetrators considered the “war against the Jews” as much of a priority as the “war against the Allies,” the SS – especially Adolf Eichmann – also worked closely with a variety of other government agencies such as the Foreign Office, to iron out any difficulties and to make sure that, even in the midst of war, the trains would reach their destinations in a timely manner. For the victims, the trains were “mobile chambers” of persecution – an integral step in the larger deportation process that was preceded by brutal round-ups that tore people from their dwellings (in their hometowns or in the ghettos) and that was followed by the traumatic arrival at the camps where families were torn apart and most Jews were murdered almost immediately.
Conditions in the trains were brutal. The cars were so overcrowded that – in many cases – fewer than two square feet of space were allotted per individual. They were also filthy and without adequate ventilation. People endured intense heat during the summer and freezing cold during the winter. No food or water was provided, even when the journey took many days. Aside from a bucket, no sanitary facilities existed, and the stench of urine and excrement added to the victims’ humiliation and suffering. Many died before the trains reached their destinations.
Indeed, many Holocaust survivors recall that it was in the trains that they first realized the true magnitude of the danger and loss of control confronting them. In the words of one local survivor, the late Bronia Roslawowski, “When they took us to the train station and I saw those cattle trains, I said, ‘It is a disaster.’”
RESOURCES AVAILABLE IN THE MCHE ONSITE RESOURCE CENTER
The Auschwitz Album
By: Yad Vashem
The Auschwitz Album, a collection of photographs taken in spring of 1944, documents the arrival and selection process at Auschwitz-Birkenau of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia. Many of the Jews came from the Berehov Ghetto, which was a collection point for Jews from several other small towns in Hungary. The photos in the album show the entire selection process except for the killing itself. To view the album visit http://www1.yadvashem.org/exhibitions/album_auschwitz/index.html.
The Last Days
By: Steven Spielberg and the Shoah Foundation
This powerful documentary, produced by Steven Spielberg and the Shoah Foundation, traces the compelling experiences of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors. The film records each survivor’s return to his or her hometown and to the ghettos and concentration camps in which each was imprisoned. The Last Days is a beautifully constructed film that takes its viewers through an emotional journey that illustrates the systematic process of the Holocaust. The MCHE Resource Center has this film in both DVD and VHS format. Note: graphic material included.
Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account
By: Dr. Miklos Nyiszli
Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jew who was transported along with his wife and daughter to Auschwitz in 1944, recounts his experience working as a physician under the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. Hoping his knowledge of forensics would make him useful to the Nazis and therefore ensure his and his family’s survival, Nyiszli volunteered to work in the crematoria and dissecting rooms. This book is his eyewitness account to what he saw. In his memoir, Nviszli writes, “As chief physician of the Auschwitz crematoriums, I drafted numerous affidavits of dissection and forensic medicine findings which I signed with my own tattoo number.”
I Have Lived A thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust
By: Livia Bitton-Jackson
As Jewish girl born in 1931, Livia Bitton-Jackson spent her early childhood years as Elli in a small farming town in Hungary. At 13, she was forced to move into a Jewish ghetto with her family. Shortly thereafter, Elli and her family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In an exceptionally well-written story, Bitton-Jackson recounts her childhood under Nazi occupation as she experienced the increasing mistreatment of Jews and her eventual deportation to Auschwitz where she struggled to keep herself and her mother alive. I Have Lived a Thousand Years is appropriate for both young readers and adults.
Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea Volume I
By: Elie Wiesel
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel chronicles his life from childhood to his time in Auschwiitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald to his eventual liberation and the subsequent post-war years up to 1969. Throughout his memoir, Wiesel wrestles with issues of doubt and faith, despair and trust, rage and love, eventually reaching a better understanding of the ultimate wisdom that came from his experiences.
Hungary: The Nazis’ Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary
By: Randolph L. Braham
This work explores both the uniqueness and the universality of the Holocaust in Hungary. The Nazi’s Last Victims analyzes what Hungarians knew of their impending fate and examines the heightened sense of tension. Reflecting scholarship from a number of different disciplines in Hungary, Israel and the United States, the contributors present a variety of analyses and insights into the Hungarian Jewish experience during World War II.
Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944
By: Aranka Siegal
The author, who is called Piri in the narrative, describes her experiences as a Jewish girl in Hungary during World War II. Unable to escape Hungary, Piri and her family experienced the slow but ever increasing persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazis. As persecution intensified, Piri and her family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where her and her sister survived by working in the kitchen. A winner of the Newberry Medal, this book allows young readers to see how the Holocaust began in Hungary and how it progressed.
Ghetto in Flames
By: Yitzhak Arad
Ghetto in Flames recalls the murderous campaign of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen against the Vilna Jews, and how this brutal campaign pushed many Lithuanian Jews, especially youth, into the resistance movement. Isaac Rudnicki, now Itzhak Arad, was one of those resisters. He became famous as a fearless avenger who carried out daring and dangerous missions to fight the brutal Nazi campaign. His story reminds us of both the destruction and struggle of the Jews of Vilna.
Against All Hope: Resistance in the Nazi Concentration Camps
By: Hermann Langbein
Hermann Langbein’s book documents a lesser known piece of history — resistance within concentration camps, the seemingly impossible fight by Jews against the Nazis within a camp system where Jews were, “morally broken, psychologically disabled, and even physically destroyed.” By telling the story of Jews who worked individually and in organized groups to thwart the cruel objectives of the concentration camps, Against All Hope is a testament to this heroic resistance and to the resilience of the human spirit.
Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust
By: Vera Laska
Laska explores the role of women in concentration camps, in the resistance and in hiding, countering what she believes to be the misconception that resistance movements were exclusively male undertakings. She argues that women often were able to carry out clandestine work that men could not by acting on the traditional stereotype that women were innocent bystanders in “male affairs.”
On Both Sides of the Wall
By: Vladka Meed
Feigele Peltel-Miedzyrzecki was only 17 when she became a member of the Polish underground. From the start of Nazi occupation, she was determined to fight her occupiers and help as many people as she could. To do so, Feigele became “Vladka” and worked on the “Aryan” side of the underground. Speaking fluent Polish and having what was perceived as an “Aryan” appearance allowed Vladka to walk among her enemies and undermine their efforts from within. Her actions of resistance included smuggling weapons, rescuing and hiding children and Jews who escaped from the ghettos, and extending help to Jews in labor camps and those hiding in the woods.
Defiance: The Bielski Partisans
By: Nechama Tec
Based on the true story of three brothers—Tuvia, Asael and Zus Bielski – Defiance tells “a gripping account of resistance against all odds.” By the end of 1941 the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) were systematically killing Jews. Tuvia, Asael and Zus escaped these executions and found refuge in the dense woods of Belorussia. There, the brothers met others who had escaped persecution, and with the strong leadership of Tuvia, they created not only a partisan group that was, “the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews during World War II,” but a family-like camp that helped build bonds necessary for survival. This book served as the basis for the recent motion picture starring Daniel Craig.
Partisans of Vilna
DVD—produced by Aviva Kempner and directed by Josh Waletzky
This DVD tells the riveting story of Jewish resistance fighters in Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. Interviews, songs, newsreels and archival footage are intertwined to relate the tales of these courageous young men and women who fought against the Nazi occupation under tremendous risk. According to the Partisans of Vilna Study Guide, the film seeks not only to record the testimony of partisans about events that occurred and understand how they grappled with life-and-death decisions, but also to look at the personal consequences and greater moral implications of their actions.
The Warsaw Ghetto
DVD – produced by The Jewish Historical Institute and TPS Film Studio
This documentary project features three films created for the Jewish Historical Institute as part of its permanent exhibit on the fate of Warsaw’s Jews during the period of 1939-1945: 912 Days of the Warsaw Ghetto, Children in the Warsaw Ghetto and Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Together, they present the daily lives and deaths of those imprisoned in the ghetto, their hopes and efforts to survive, their armed resistance and struggle, and finally their death.
The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto
By: Mary Berg
On her fifteenth birthday, with the German army pouring into Warsaw, Mary Berg began her personal diary. From the siege of Warsaw to the final, brutal suppression of the Ghetto Uprising, she records in vivid detail the plight of the refugees, the life of the nouveau riche, the forced conscription, deportations, heroism and resistance at the forefront of the fight against German oppression. Rescued with her family through an allied prisoner exchange, Berg survives with her diaries, which are a good resource for helping young readers better understand life in the ghettos.
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto
By: Dawid Sierakowiak
Off mountain climbing and studying in southern Poland during the summer of 1939, Dawid begins his diary with great enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm wanes as Lodz is occupied by the Nazis and the Sierakowiak family becomes part the city’s 200,000 Jews who are soon forced into a sealed ghetto. Sierakowiak’s diary describes his daily struggles – from obtaining food to coping with death and deportation. Repeatedly he rallies himself against fear and pessimism, fighting the cold, disease, and exhaustion, which finally consume him.
Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan
By: Chaim Kaplan
Chaim Kaplan’s diary is a detailed eyewitness report of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and a unique account of the destruction of the Jewish communities of Poland. Scroll of Agony begins on September 1, 1939, as the author, a respected educator, describes the Nazi blitzkrieg that stunned the world. Kaplan depicts a world of starvation and forced labor, of capricious death and planned mass murder. Yet his diary also gives insight into acts of resistance that are used to hold on to humanity and life.
Image Before My Eyes: A History of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust
By: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research—DVD and VHS
Image Before My Eyes focuses on Jews in Poland between the two World Wars. Discovering the stories of Jewish villagers, aristocrats, socialists, Zionists, and artists, this film illustrates the vibrant and dynamic community of the 3.5 million Jews living in pre-war Poland. The film uses rare artifacts such as home movies, photographs, and forgotten song recordings, along with the memories of survivors to recreate the Jewish culture and life of Poland.
Jews of Poland: Bialystok, Lvov, Krakow, Vilna, Warsaw
By: Spielberg Jewish Film Archives—VHS
Between 1938 and 1939, filmmakers Yitzhak and Shaul Goskind visited six Jewish communities in Poland in an effort to record the vitality of Jewish life. Little did they suspect that their film recordings would be one of the last visual accounts of a once vibrant world. Five of the films survived, through the efforts of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive in Jerusalem, leaving us with a unique glimpse into the world of pre-war Polish Jewry.
The Jews of Warsaw 1939-1942: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt
By: Yisreal Gutman
Yisrael Gutman in his book, The Jews of Warsaw, depicts the Nazi persecution of the Jewish community of Warsaw and traces the development of the Jewish armed resistance movement in the Warsaw ghetto. His work chronicles the struggle of Warsaw Jewry from the outbreak of World War II through the armed Jewish uprising, the annihilation of the remnant Jewish community, and the destruction of the traditional Jewish sector of the city.
Ghetto in Flames: The Struggle and Destruction of the Jews in Vilna in the Holocaust
By: Yitzhak Arad
For centuries, its large number of rabbinic scholars ensured Vilna a central place in the cultural life of Lithuanian Jewry. Arad’s scholarly and groundbreaking study focuses on the Jewish community at the outbreak of the war, the struggles the community faced under Nazi occupation, and the annihilation of the Jews of Vilna in the period between 1941 and 1944.
The Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz
By: Dawid Rubinowicz
Dawid’s diary, begun when he was twelve years old during the German occupation of Poland, was discovered in the post-war rubble. The diary, in which he wrote for two years and which consisted of five school notebooks, recorded emotional scenes as well as mundane ones. The reader learns of the fears and pain that Jews felt under Nazi persecution and watches, as Dawid watched, the Nazis’ movement toward the “Final Solution.”