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up essentials." They ended up at Auschwitz, where Erwin and his mother and father were gassed on the night they arrived. His older sisters were assigned to a laundry crew and survived to tell the tale . Their main duty: removing the yellow stars from the coats of those that had been killed and burnt. And there are many more stories like this. "So together we wrest the nameless from anonymity" (Günther Ginzel, as quoted in the book).
One of the most affecting portions of the book is the tabulation, in an Addendum, of the specific anti-Jewish measures as they were promulgated. April 7, 1933: all Jewish civil servants dismissed. April 25: "Law against Overcrowding in German Schools and Universities" limits the proportion of Jewish students to 1.5%. September 29: all farmers must prove that they are racially Aryan. October 4: "Editors Law" excludes Jews from the press. February 5, 1934: Jews prohibited from becoming dentists or physicians. July 22: lawyers. December 8: pharmacists. September 15, 1935: "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor" prohibits marriage between Jews and Gentiles. May 26, 1936: Jews expelled from the Chamber of Fine Arts. June 9, 1938: destruction of the synagogue in Munich. August 10: in Nuremberg. November 9-10: throughout the Reich. And so on and so on, carrying the story all the way down through the establishment of the concentration camps; the deportations; the establishment of the Einsatzgruppen ("Task Forces") to liquidate the Jews in the eastern territories; the gassings – not only at Auschwitz, but also at Chelmo, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor; the uprisings; the eventual liberation of the camps. Similar lists have of course been given elsewhere, but this one is unusually detailed.
Notable scholars and literary figures are among those quoted in the volume: Hannah Arendt, Yehuda Bauer, Ernst Cassirer, Paulo Freire, Ernst Jünger, Pinchas Lapide, Robert J. Lifton, Thomas Mann, Amos Oz, Paul Ricoeur, George Steiner, Fritz Stern, Paul Valéry, Elie Wiesel. Theologians cited include Reinhold Niebuhr, Johann Baptist Metz, Helmut Gollwitzer, Dorothee Sölle, and Helmut Thielicke. An extensive bibliography indicates the source of each quote.
This is a volume well worth reading and pondering. In addition to the
printed version, it is also available as an e-book from Amazon.com.
Founding Director, Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding,
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA, U.S.A.