And the World Closed Its Doors: The Story of One Family's Struggle to Escape the Holocaust

And the World Closed Its Doors: The Story of One Family's Struggle to Escape the Holocaust

by David Clay Large
     
 

In this masterpiece of Holocaust literature, David Clay Large tells the wrenching story of Max Schohl, a German Jew who, in the midst of the Second World War, could not find a government that would allow his family to immigrate, despite wealth, education, and business and family connections. After repeated but fruitless efforts to gain entry first to the United

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Overview

In this masterpiece of Holocaust literature, David Clay Large tells the wrenching story of Max Schohl, a German Jew who, in the midst of the Second World War, could not find a government that would allow his family to immigrate, despite wealth, education, and business and family connections. After repeated but fruitless efforts to gain entry first to the United States and then to Britain, Chile, and Brazil, Max died in Auschwitz and his wife and daughters were sent to hard labor in Wiesbaden.Much has been written about the West's unwillingness to attempt the rescue of tens of thousands of European Jews from the hands of the Nazis; now David Clay Large gives a human face to this tragedy of bureaucratic inertia and ill will. The youngest daughter of the Schohl family, today a seventy-four-year-old widow living in Charleston, South Carolina, has opened her family's records to Large: a unique collection of family letters and other documents chronicling the experiences of the Schohls and those who tried to bring them to England and America. From these papers Large has fashioned a gripping and intimate narrative of one family's efforts to escape the Holocaust in Europe and the inadequate response from abroad.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
One German-Jewish family�s experiences during the Shoah reveal broader trends in this cautionary account by the author of Where Ghosts Walked (1997). Large (History/Montana State Univ.) writes modestly at the outset that an account such as this, focusing on only a handful of people, cannot provide definitive answers to such big-picture matters as the democratic powers� failure to rescue Europe�s Jews by allowing unimpeded immigration. Yet the Schohl family�s experience is highly instructive: though moneyed and well-educated, they were turned away from every portal of escape, barred from entering England, the US, Brazil, even Chile by bureaucratic indifference at best, barely covert anti-Semitism at worst. The large J stamped on their German passports--an invention, Large writes, not of the Nazi regime but of the Swiss, "to facilitate the process of excluding" Jewish refugees--was shibboleth enough to bar the Schohls from fleeing, though family members and friends in the US and England did what they could to get them out. More than describe the Schohls� misfortune on that count, Large details the daily life of Jews within the Third Reich. He writes, for example, that Max Schohl was well-regarded in his native village of Fl�rsheim, both for his heroism during WWI and for such acts as paying his workers in dollars during the collapse of the Weimar economy and providing needy families with food. Such acts of kindness did not keep his lifelong best friend from refusing to step in when Max was sent to Buchenwald in 1938. (The same friend asked the Schohls to testify to his good character at his postwar trial, a request they denied.) And the people of Fl�rsheim simply pretended not to noticewhen the Schohls disappeared. Drawing on a wealth of family documents that supplement the official histories, Large gives a compelling portrait of a family, a place, and a nightmarish time. A welcome addition to Holocaust literature. Agent: Agnes Krup

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465038084
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
04/18/2003
Pages:
278
Product dimensions:
6.43(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.07(d)

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