Holocaust Journey: Traveling in Search of the Past

Holocaust Journey: Traveling in Search of the Past

by Martin Gilbert
     
 

In 1996 Martin Gilbert was asked by a group of his graduate students to lead them on a tour of the places in Europe that were the stage of one of history's greatest human tragedies. The two-week journey that resulted, with England's leading Holocaust and World War II scholar as its guide, culminated in the powerful travel narrative Holocaust Journey.

Gilbert

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Overview

In 1996 Martin Gilbert was asked by a group of his graduate students to lead them on a tour of the places in Europe that were the stage of one of history's greatest human tragedies. The two-week journey that resulted, with England's leading Holocaust and World War II scholar as its guide, culminated in the powerful travel narrative Holocaust Journey.

Gilbert skillfully interweaves present-day experiences, personal memories, and historical accounts. More than fifty photographs taken over the course of this unique voyage are included, among them shots of Berlin, at the spot of the 1933 book burning; the railway line to Auschwitz; Oskar Schindler's factory in Crakow, Poland; and memorial stones from Treblinka. Together with fifty-five maps, these illustrations add an arresting visual dimension to this powerful story.

-A travelogue, spanning two weeks, of the essential sites of the Holocaust, by the venerable historian and author of many books. . . . [Gilbert] guides one of his classes on an extraordinary field trip. . . . He lectures at the most significant sights--of desecrated synagogues, book burnings, and gas chambers. . . . To these moving testaments Gilbert here adds the voices of his fellow travelers, both Jews and non-Jews, who draw closer as the trip progresses and they relive the terrible history. . . . The very best book for any Jew, or any human being, planning the same soul-searching trip. -Kirkus Reviews -A powerfully moving narrative that reveals the deepest thoughts and feelings of 13 travelers during the summer of 1996. . . . Without overpowering his readers, [Gilbert] juxtaposes the histories of the places visited with descriptions of what they look like today. The overall effect is to make the past live by transferring it to the present, where it can be handled and evaluated anew. -America -The achievement of Gilbert's Holocaust Journey is to reduce to comprehensible, human terms, the scale of genocide that to many is still unimaginable. -Literary Review (UK) -Gilbert. . . . is a dedicated guide to this difficult material. We can be grateful for his thoroughness, courage and guidance. -Los Angeles Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

America
A powerfully moving narrative that reveals the deepest thoughts and feelings of 13 travelers during the summer of 1996. . . . Without overpowering his readers, [Gilbert] juxtaposes the histories of the places visited with descriptions of what they look like today. The overall effect is to make the past live by transferring it to the present, where it can be handled and evaluated anew.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Gilbert. . . . is a dedicated guide to this difficult material. We can be grateful for his thoroughness, courage and guidance.
Literary Review UK
The achievement of Gilbert's Holocaust Journey is to reduce to comprehensible, human terms, the scale of genocide that to many is still unimaginable.
Booknews
Documents a 1996 journey that Gilbert (Holocaust studies, U. College, London) took 13 of his graduate students on to the places in Europe that were the settings for the Holocaust. He juxtaposes the experiences and reactions of his students with the stories of the victims and survivors from the ghettos and camps, on the run from Nazi terror, or in revolt against it. Black-and-white photographs and detailed maps support the narrative. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
LA Times
We can be grateful for [Gilbert's] thoroughness, courarage, and guidance.
Commonweal
At once a lamentation for the dead and a celebration of the Jewish life that had invigorated pre-war Europe.
Kirkus Reviews
A travelogue, spanning two weeks, of the essential sites of the Holocaust, by the venerable historian and author of many books, including The Boys, an oral history of concentration camp survivors. Gilbert, professor of Holocaust studies at University College (London), guides one of his classes on an extraordinary field trip: to Berlin, Prague, Zilina, Cracow, Auschwitz, Zamosc, Lublin, Warsaw, Piotrkow, Konin, and the rail stations and villages in between. He lectures at the most significant sites—of desecrated synagogues, book burnings, and gas chambers—bringing in local historians with their archival letters and diaries.

To these moving testaments Gilbert adds the voices of his fellow travelers, both Jews and non-Jews, who draw closer as the trip progresses and they relive the terrible history. Gilbert does not simply chronicle atrocities, however, but brings into his narrative the history of Jewish settlements prior to their decimation; of labor and political movements; and of WW I's effect on Germany and the rise of the Nazis. In Berlin, for instance, he lectures his students on the murder of the Communist Labor leader Rosa Luxemburg. At the same time, he weaves in telling details, such as the story of an old, dignified man, newly arrived at Auschwitz, who somehow held onto a pouch full of diamonds. Daily, he negotiated with his brutal foreman, trading diamonds for potatoes. The passages concerning Birkenau are moving in an immediate way: Gilbert quotes the Nuremberg testimony of a doctor who watched as starved women undressed and filed into the gas chambers, even as his students walk in their steps. Yet there is irony: Auschwitz is an internationaltourist destination now. The very best book for any Jew, or any human being, planning the same soul-searching trip.

Literary Review (UK)
The achievement of Gilbert's Holocaust Journey is to reduce to comprehensible, human terms, the scale of genocide that to many is still unimaginable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231109642
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
10/17/1997
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

I had seen their homes, eaten in their restaurants, and prayed in their synagogues. . . .And now I was standing on their graves, and weeping their tears. When one spends hour upon hour visiting Jewish community upon Jewish community, and ends the day at the site of their mass murder, one becomes deeply conscious of the scale of the Shoah. And that was one road, to one camp, in one country. — Epilogue, reflection of one student on the trip to Belzec, Poland

Meet the Author

Martin Gilbert is professor of Holocaust Studies at University College, London. He is the author of many books, including Final Journey, The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy, and Atlas of the Holocaust.

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