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By Dan DeNeve
Renowned scholar Laurence Rees has come o
ut with yet another excellent title about Nazi Germany’s greatest crime. In The Holocaust: A New History, Rees does an excellent job of weaving actual stories of survivors and Nazis with the story of the holocaust.
Rees, who has previously written about the Nazis and the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, relies on interviews, not previously in print, he conducted 25 years ago to paint a richer picture of how the holocaust came to be. Besides placing the ultimate blame for the holocaust on Hitler, one of the recurring themes of the book is that many people, including Jews and many Germans never thought that the persecution would ever get as bad as it did. Many that interviewed Jews thought it was horrible to lose property and jobs, but it wouldn’t get worse. Then when they were rounded up, placed in ghettos and forced to wear a gold star they still didn’t think it would get worse. History shows how wrong they were.
Rees, who goes about this history chronologically, traces how the Nazis rounded up Jews in other countries as they conquered them, i.e. France, Belgium, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, etc. Rees also goes on to show how this act had its genesis years before Hitler even became chancellor of Germany. While many other countries have experienced genocide, there has never been an attempt on such a grand a scale with such machinations to accomplish the goal of wiping out a single group of people.
Rees’ book is going to take its place among the very best histories of this dark era and should stay there for quite some time.
The library is in the process of acquiring a copy and I highly recommend this book.