Bound Upon A Wheel Of Fire: Why So Many German Jews Made The Tragic Decision To Remain In Nazi Germany

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9780465091034: Bound Upon A Wheel Of Fire: Why So Many German Jews Made The Tragic Decision To Remain In Nazi Germany

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, some 525,000 Jews were living within the borders of Germany. Over the next six years between 250,000 and 300,000 either chose or were forced to emigrate as a result of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism, yet as the pivotal year of 1939 dawned, nearly half remained.Why so many German Jews appeared reluctant to leave their homeland and escape the Nazi terror is one of the great unsolved questions of the Holocaust. Theories abound: the vagaries of Hitler's Jewish policy during the 1930s did not clearly foreshadow the Final Solution; Jews expected to survive this period of German anti-Semitism as they had others throughout the centuries; those who tried to escape were denied immigration visas all over the world. While there is some truth in all these responses, according to John Dippel they are more ex post facto rationalizations than explanations. In this revelatory book he examines diaries, letters, and other documents written before 1939 in an attempt to discover an answer uncolored by hindsight. Bound Upon a Wheel of Fire is the story of six prominent figures in the German Jewish community who chose to stay on under the Nazis the chief rabbi of Berlin, the editor of the leading Zionist newspaper, a renowned international financier, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, a society columnist, and a conservative youth movement leader. Owing to their visibility, their decisions not to emigrate changed irreversibly not only their own lives but also the lives of thousands of others.In spite of their disparate lives, Dippel argues that these six shared a single passion: a deep and abiding love for their country. Able to trace their German heritage back hundreds of years, they were proud of their ability to assimilate successfully to become ”more German than the Germans.” Their ties to their homeland in fact were so deep that most probably would have described their primary identification as German rather than Jewish. Ultimately, their sense of loyalty and nostalgia their patriotism blinded them to the hatred that swirled around them until it was too late. Bound Upon a Wheel of Fire explores the emotional and psychological conflicts as well as the patriotic, cultural, and economic ties that kept these six leaders, along with countless others, from fleeing. In addition, it provides a fascinating look at the dynamics of late nineteenth and early twentieth century German Jewish life, including the rise of the Zionist movement and the tensions between established Jews and their eastern European immigrant cousins.

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Review:

The author of Two Against Hitler, Dippel follows the lives of six relatively prominent German Jews from January 30, 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor, until late 1938. The six are Hans-Joachim Schoeps, the leader of an extreme right-wing group; Nobel prize-winning chemist Richard Wilstatter; banker Max Warburg; Leo Baeck, who was Berlin's chief rabbi; columnist Bella Fromm; and journalist and editor Robert Weltsch. The thread that ties the six together is their decision to remain in Germany during the Nazi era.

From the Publisher:

Exploring one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Holocaust, this book explains why hundreds of thousands of German Jews elected to remain in their homeland despite the threat of Nazi terror.

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John V.h. Dippel
Published by Basic Books (1996)
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