When The Holocaust first appeared in Israel in 1987, it was hailed as the finest, most authoritative history of Hitler's war on the Jews ever published. Representing twenty years of research and reflection, Leni Yahil's book won the Shazar Prize, one of Israel's highest awards for historical work. Now available in English, The Holocaust offers a sweeping look at the Final Solution, covering not only Nazi policies, but also how Jews and foreign governments perceived and responded to the unfolding nightmare.
The Holocaust is astonishingly comprehensive. Yahil weaves a gripping chronological narrative that stretches from the Norwegian fjords to the Greek islands, from Amsterdam to Tehranand even Shanghai. Her writing is balanced, objective, and compelling, as she systematically explores the evolution of the Holocaust in German-occupied Europe, probing its politics, planning, goals, and key figures. Yahil uses her command of the many relevant languages to marshal an impressive array of documentary and statistical evidence, driving her narrative forward with telling details and personal accountssuch as a survivor's description of her perseverance during a death march, or the story of the Struma, a boat that sank with over 700 Jewish refugees when the British refused to receive it in Palestine.
Along the way, she destroys persistent myths about the Holocaust: that Hitler had no plan for exterminating the Jews, that the Jews themselves went peacefully to the slaughter. Though Yahil finds that Nazi policies were often inconsistent, particularly during the years before the war, she conclusively demonstrates that Hitler was always working toward a final reckoning with world Jewry, envisioning his war as a war against the Jews. The book also recounts numerous uprisings and acts of resistance in ghettos and concentration camps, as well as the activities of Jewish partisan units. Yahil describes the work of Jews in America, Palestine, and world organizations on behalf of Hitler's victimsoften in the face of resistance by the Allied governments and neutral statesand explores the factors that affected the success of rescue efforts.
The Holocaust is a monumental work of history, unsurpassed in scope and insightful detail. Objective yet compassionate, Leni Yahil brings together the countless diverse strands of this epic event in a single gripping account.
About the Author
Leni Yahil is Professor Emeritus at Haifa University, and is a member of the Editorial Board of Yad Vashem Studies, and its affiliated publications.