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Never Despair: Sixty Years in the Service of the Jewish People and of Human Rights
     

Never Despair: Sixty Years in the Service of the Jewish People and of Human Rights

by Gerhart Riegner
 

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In August 1942 a thirty-year-old counsel in the Geneva office of the World Jewish Congress sent a cable to Rabbi Stephen Wise in New York with the following message: RECEIVED ALARMING REPORT THAT IN FUHRERS HEADQUARTERS PLAN DISCUSSED AND UNDER CONSIDERATION ALL JEWS IN COUNTRIES OCCUPIED OR CONTROLLED GERMANY NUMBER 3-1/2 TO 4 MILLION SHOULD AFTER DEPORTATION

Overview

In August 1942 a thirty-year-old counsel in the Geneva office of the World Jewish Congress sent a cable to Rabbi Stephen Wise in New York with the following message: RECEIVED ALARMING REPORT THAT IN FUHRERS HEADQUARTERS PLAN DISCUSSED AND UNDER CONSIDERATION ALL JEWS IN COUNTRIES OCCUPIED OR CONTROLLED GERMANY NUMBER 3-1/2 TO 4 MILLION SHOULD AFTER DEPORTATION AND CONCENTRATION IN EAST AT ONE BLOW EXTERMINATED TO RESOLVE ONCE FOR ALL JEWISH QUESTION IN EUROPE. Sent by Gerhart Riegner, this first recorded notice of the "Final Solution" came to be known as the Riegner Telegram. It was perhaps the most famous and tragic moment in Riegner's career, but there were many other important and fascinating episodes in his life of service, told now in Never Despair, Riegner's impressive memoir. He recounts his youth in a cultivated, middle-class Jewish family in Germany, and as a young lawyer in Leipzig who fled to Switzerland after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. He worked all his life for the World Jewish Congress and was involved in its most important undertakings: rescue programs and diplomacy in response to the Holocaust; the struggle for broad-scale human rights at the League of Nations and later at the United Nations; relations with Christian churches; advocacy in behalf of North African Jewry; German reparations; and work with international student organizations. In Never Despair he recounts his efforts behind the scenes and offers a firsthand estimate of many of the leading international figures of the past century. This is an essential book for students of the Holocaust and of the Jewish role in world affairs from World War II to the end of the century. With 8 pages of black-and-white photographs.

Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
There are so many fascinating personal anecdotes as well as history....It is truly a book of record.
Midwest Book Review
Any interested in Jewish history in general will find Never Despair...to be essential reading.
Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Proves valuable to historians.
Raul Hilberg
Author of the fateful telegram that alerted Jewish leadership to the Holocaust, Riegner here gives us his own account of his steadfast service.
Catholic Library World - John T. Pawlikowski
"This is an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the Holocaust and the origins of modern international human rights legislation. No one interested in these critical issues of the twentieth century can bypass this volume."
The Midwest Book Review
Any interested in Jewish history in general will find Never Despair to be essential reading.

Publishers Weekly
Riegner is best known for having alerted the world to the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews, so it's not surprising that the strength of this memoir is its first section, in which Riegner details his activities during the war as a staffer with the World Jewish Congress. This includes the "Riegner Telegram," sent to leading American rabbi Stephen Wise in August 1942, with information about the Final Solution. He also describes the fascinating ways he and his colleagues obtained the information in the telegram. Riegner is not shy about criticizing institutions, such as the Catholic Church, for their failure to do more to stop the genocide. He attributes this less to anti-Semitism than to their inability to comprehend the scope of the Nazis' behavior. Riegner, who died in 2000, was known for his tact and magnanimity, and as he traces the rest of his career-he was deeply involved in interfaith efforts and in pushing the U.N. on human rights and Israel-related causes-these qualities are on display. Though the rest of the book is less compelling, it highlights a life well lived. 15 b&w photos. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566636964
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
11/25/2006
Edition description:
Translatio
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.46(h) x 1.59(d)

What People are Saying About This

Raul Hilberg
"Author of the telegram that alerted the West of the Holocaust gives us his account of his service to Jews."--(Raul Hilberg)

Meet the Author

Gerhart M. Riegner (1911-2001) worked tirelessly during his lifetime for international human rights and held a central role in Christian-Jewish relations-all likely extensions of his early involvement in the Holocaust, to which he was so close.

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