Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946


“An impressive and rich book that provides much-needed ?attention to Hitler’s other victims.”—Jewish Book World
As persecution, war, and deportation savaged their communities, Jews tried to flee Nazi Europe through both legal and clandestine routes. In this riveting tale of Jewish refugees during and after the Nazi era, Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt thread together official papers and personal accounts to weave the history of refugees’ lives into the history of the ...

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“An impressive and rich book that provides much-needed ?attention to Hitler’s other victims.”—Jewish Book World
As persecution, war, and deportation savaged their communities, Jews tried to flee Nazi Europe through both legal and clandestine routes. In this riveting tale of Jewish refugees during and after the Nazi era, Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt thread together official papers and personal accounts to weave the history of refugees’ lives into the history of the Holocaust.

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Editorial Reviews

“An important and wide-ranging new history. . . . Dwork and van Pelt show [that] the story of the refugees . . . is crucial to any understanding of the Nazi war against the Jews.”
Open Letters
“A bright shining accomplishment in Holocaust studies. . . . This is a great and powerful book . . . a masterpiece in its own right.”
Henry Kissinger
“Combining exceptional research with riveting narrative, Flight from the Reich illuminates a less-known chapter in the history of the Holocaust: the accounts of the few who made it to safety.”
Publishers Weekly

Tracking the plight of refugee Jews during and after the Nazi era, the authors of Auschwitz offer a comprehensive survey of various countries' responses to the refugee crisis and their often self-serving motives America, fearing immigrants would become public charges, required financial affidavits from American family or friends, which proved insurmountable for most European Jews. Britain granted visas to Jews of international repute, such as Sigmund Freud, but to only 50 Jews with licenses to practice medicine and 14,000 Jewish women willing to work as domestic servants. Eager to increase its white population, a racist Dominican Republic allowed healthy young refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to work on large-scale agricultural colonies. Internment camps in the Soviet Union offered a chance for survival while detention camps in France were conduits to the concentration camps and death. The establishment of the state of Israel resolved postwar Jewish refugee problems but ironically triggered an immediate Jewish refugee flood from Muslim countries. Although well researched and written, this work's specialized focus deems it more appropriate for academics and others with a special interest in the Holocaust or refugee policy. 50 photos, 2 maps. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Dwork and van Pelt (coauthors, Holocaust: A History) offer a chronicle of the unique perspective of Jewish refugees between 1933 and 1946. The interwoven circumstances, many quoted in firsthand accounts here, weave a disturbing and all-too-human tapestry of suffering, loss, and ultimate survival of She'erit Hapletah(the saved remnant). The book is divided into four parts covering the historical underpinnings and background events that set the stage for the insidious unfolding of history as it is now known; the escalating anti-Semitism and the rejection of assistance offered by nearly every nation in a position to render aid, including a particularly poignant account of the Kindertransport; the stark and dire circumstances surrounding the daily lives of refugees in and out of internment camps; and the postwar efforts to repatriate or relocate what remained of the decimated Jewish population. This book is essential for academic libraries and should be strongly considered by public libraries.
—Judy Brink-Drescher

Kirkus Reviews
Comprehensive, well-argued investigation into why more Jews didn't flee Europe during the Holocaust. Dwork (director, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies/Clark Univ.) and van Pelt (Cultural History and Architecture/Waterloo Univ.) use archival and oral histories to explain this aspect of the period's history, which is sometimes eclipsed by the political and military components. Setting the stage by describing different perceptions of conditions in the Weimar Republic, the frequent co-authors (Holocaust: A History, 2002, etc.) note that "where Nazis saw perdition and ruin, German Jews experienced progress toward political emancipation and cultural equality." Dwork and van Pelt take both a macro- and a micro-historical look at the issues, avoiding the twin traps of esotericism and sentimentality. They explore the behind-the-scenes debates in several countries-including Britain, Switzerland and the United States-about whether to accept refugees. They also chronicle the efforts of humanitarian volunteers to help Jews, going far beyond the well-known tale of Raoul Wallenberg. The authors extensively detail the sacrifices and risks that Jews faced as they decided whether to attempt to escape. Many experienced serious professional setbacks in their new home countries, but the problems often originated from an unlikely source. "The rejection operated on a social level," write Dwork and van Pelt. "If it had been a question of marginalization by the government alone, the asylum seekers would not have experienced such profound isolation. But they were spurned by their professional peers whose attitude was: I didn't want you to come here to practice."While their prose is sometimesdry, the details the authors uncover and the broad sweep of their narrative make the book an invaluable addition to the literature on the Holocaust. Agent: Anne Borchardt/Georges Borchardt
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393342642
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/13/2012
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 361,820
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Debórah Dwork is the director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Robert Jan van Pelt is a University Professor at the University of Waterloo. He lives in Toronto.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part 1 1933

1933 The End of an Era 3

People: The First to Flee 9

Places: A Homeland in Palestine 28

Papers: Passports in a Closed World 52

Problems: Minority Rights and Jews as a Minority 69

Part 2 1938-1939

1933-1938 The Screws Tighten 91

People: Officials and Their Solutions 97

Places: A Life Anywhere 119

Papers: Visa Stamps Offer Hope 141

Problems: The Rupture of Departure 163

Part 3 1942

1939-1942 Toward Genocide 189

People: Passeurs: Guides to Freedom 198

Places: Caught in Internment Camps 218

Papers: Loved Ones Become Letters 245

Problems: Life as a Refugee 264

Part 4 1946

1942-1946 Holocaust 287

People: Sherit Hapleita: The Surviving Remnant 292

Places: Where Now? 315

Papers: Lists of the Living 340

Problems: Adjustment 360

Notes 381

Acknowledgments 449

Illustration Credits 453

Index 457

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