Martyrs to Madness: The Victims of the Nazis

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This is a fascinating study of World War II, aimed at young Americans for whom it is almost ancient history. The book is a real page-turner, from how and why the war began, how Hitler was able to focus his countrymen's feelings of insecurity and paranoia and turn them into hatred, to how the German war machine became an instrument of mass murder. Gottfried's matter-of-fact style makes terribly clear that Jews were not the only group that the Nazis targeted for systematic destruction. Homosexuals, both male and female, were nearly at the top of the list. Catholics, Gypsies, Communists, the physically handicapped, the mentally "challenged," or disturbed, trade unionists, the elderly, and even the "weak," the non-fatally-ill hospitalized, were all included, as were members of ethnic groups like Poles and Slavs, political rivals, and prisoners of war. They were all considered something less than human—"untermenschen." All wars involve killing, Gottfried reminds us, and World War II was no exception. But genocide—the slaughter of a specific ethnic group—made this war especially terrible. By the end of the war, ten million civilians were dead. Six million of them were Jews. Photos speak of the army, prisoners, concentration camps, and the dead. Alcorn's illustrations are nearly as moving as the text. 2000, Twentieth Century Books, $28.90. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
VOYA
This review was written and published to address two books, Martyrs to Madness: The Victims of the Holocaust, and Nazi Germany: The Face of Tyranny, which are part of The Holocaust series that also includes Children of the Slaughter and Heroes of the Holocaust. Martyrs explains how the Nazis came to power in Germany before focusing on each of the different groups of people who were victimized by Hitler's mandates—Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and prisoners of war as well as the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, and others who did not fit Hitler's criteria of "racial purity." Nazi Germany provides a brief overview of German history and a biographical sketch of Adolf Hitler. The book then explores the background of the Nazi organization and its rise to power. Both books are readable, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing with wide margins, chapter subheadings, and striking full-page illustrations for each chapter opening. There is a subtle color coordination that appears throughout each volume in the series. Organized chronologically, both books contain a map of Europe and black-and-white photographs. Back matter in each includes lists of Internet sites and further readings. The five Internet sites are identical in both books, and the glossaries and further readings are nearly the same. Further reading offers a mixed bag of both adult and young adult titles. The format of dates and columns of the chronology in Martyrs is easier to comprehend than the one in Nazi Germany. Readers looking for an overview of the Holocaust will find this series satisfying. The only quibble with this set might be the author's reliance on Encyclopedia Britannica as a major resource,especially in the Martyrs volume. Students who need more detail for research purposes might want to turn to the six-volume Holocaust Reference Library from UXL, Blackbirch Press's Holocaust series, or the multivolume Holocaust Remembered series from Enslow. Glossary. Index. Photos. Maps. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Twenty-First Century, 126p, . Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Mary Ann Capan SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Gottfried has put a fascinating spin on the Holocaust by writing companion volumes in which one is devoted to the rise and fall of the tyrants and the other to the vastness and complexities of their victims. Martyrs follows the plight of minorities as the Nazis implemented their plans for the Final Solution. The first half of the book concentrates on the Jewish plight. The second half presents entire chapters chronicling the fate of the "other Untermenschen," including Aryan Gypsies (one to four million died), homosexuals (the Pink Triangle), the physically and mentally ill (as defined by the Nazis), enormous numbers of civilians and prisoners of war, and the many who resisted. Nazi Germany traces the origins of both Hitler and the National Socialist Democratic Party through the years of rejection to the years of tyranny. Students will see how the tangle of Hitler's erratic upbringing and narcissistic personality, the humiliating German defeat in World War I, and the easy scapegoating of Jews and other minorities combined inexorably to create the monster that was the Third Reich. Chapters in both titles are clearly organized and relatively short, with subsections creatively labeled: "The Flip-Flop Flunky" provides a startlingly clear image of Joseph Goebbels, for example, and "Lists and Lies" describes the careful choreography involved in convincing deportees that death did not await them. Replete with maps, photographs, dramatic graphics, and well-organized and visually accessible texts, these books also contain parallel thought-provoking afterwords and extensive chapter notes. Fine additions to Holocaust collections.-Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761317159
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Series: Holocaust Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 10.28 (h) x 0.64 (d)

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