Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949

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9780230768918: Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949
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The Holocaust has never been so widely commemorated, but our understanding of the accepted narrative has rarely, if ever, been questioned. David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenges accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany and the inevitability of the 'Final Solution'. The persecution of the Jews was not always the Nazis' central preoccupation, nor was it an inevitable process. Cesarani also reveals that in German-occupied countries it unfolded erratically, often due to local initiatives. Ghettos were improvised while the mass shooting of Jews during the invasion of Russia owed as much to the security situation as to anti-semitism. In this new interpretation, war is critical to the Jewish fate. Military failure denied the Germans opportunities to expel Jews into a distant territory and created a crisis of resources that led to starvation of the ghettos and intensified anti-Jewish measures. It was global war that eventually triggered genocide in Europe. Cesarani disputes the iconic role of railways, deportation trains and even Auschwitz, and reveals that plunder was more a cause of anti-Jewish feeling than a consequence of it. Using diaries and reports written in ghettos and camps, he exposes the extent of sexual violence and abuse of Jewish women by the Germans, their collaborators and, shockingly, by Jews themselves. But Cesarani also reveals the courage and ingenuity of those who struggled to evade capture and fought back wherever they could. And unlike previous histories, he follows the Jews' journey to the 'Displaced Persons' camps; camps which have so often been merely a footnote in the story but where Jews languished behind barbed wire for years after 'liberation'. This moving and dramatic account captures the fate of the Jews, the horror and the heroism, in their own words. Resting on decades of scholarship it is compelling, authoritative, and profoundly disturbing.

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About the Author:

David Cesarani is internationally recognized as one of this generation's leading Jewish and Holocaust scholars. He is research professor in History at Royal Holloway. His most recent book, Major Farran's Hat (Heinemann, 2009), was nominated for a Golden Dagger and was a finalist for the US National Jewish Book Award for History 2009. His biography of Adolf Eichmann was winner of the National Jewish Book Award in 2006 and has been translated into a dozen languages. Earlier books include an acclaimed biography of Arthur Koestler (1998) and the controversial Justice Delayed (1992), the story of how Britain became a haven for Nazi war criminals after the end of the war. He has extensive broadcasting and print media experience. In 2005 he was awarded an OBE for his work in the establishment of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK and is a trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. He also serves on the UK delegation to the International Task Force for Holocaust Remembrance, Education and Research.

Review:

"This splendid book will serve as a fitting end to his career, but it is an enormous loss that it should have to do so...Few if any have traced as well as David Cesarani does here the global skeins of influence, ideas and power on which Jewish fates hung." - The Times Literary Supplement

“A brilliant synthesis and interpretation of the greatest crime of the modern era ... There is so much of value in this harrowing and extraordinary book that it's hard to encompass in a review ... There are stories here I didn't know and could scarcely have imagined ... A book that demands to be read and deserves every historical award going.” - Oliver Kamm, The Times (London)

“This is an elegantly written, honest and plausible account and it deserves to be widely read and reflected upon in a continent where racial and religious prejudice is not as far below the surface as we would like to think. Final Solution is a fitting monument to a fine historian and a fine human being.” - Richard Overy, Literary Review

“A masterpiece . . . dense with fascinating detail, so very well written, and so passionately and compellingly argued.” - Jewish Chronicle

“With his ability to bring coherence to the confusion of genocide and connect those narratives to geopolitical events, Cesarani makes us rethink the Holocaust.” - Prospect

“Traces a path across a vast mass of material - new and old - demonstrating with urgency and verve how Hitler's progress towards mass extermination of the Jews was never pre-planned or preordained . . . utterly convincing . . . One of Cesarani's most remarkable achievements is to reinvigorate this monstrous narrative.” - Sarah Helm, Daily Telegraph

“Lengthy, compelling and devastating . . . a powerful and intensely moving account, drawing on the diaries and letters of those who suffered and died as well as the historical accounts and bland instructions of the remorseless killers.” - Irish Independent

“It is difficult not to be first moved and then overwhelmed by the mere listing of what happened, and in this respect Cesarani has fulfilled his ambition of reclaiming the killings of the Jews for another generation.” - Observer

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Published by Macmillan
ISBN 10: 0230768911 ISBN 13: 9780230768918
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