Today concludes our week-long feature on readings for Jewish Book Month. We hope these books have helped increase your knowledge and awareness of important topics in Jewish studies. Our final set of reading selections covers historical, personal, and fictional perspectives of the impact of World War II and the Holocaust on the Jewish people:
From 1942 onwards, ordinary Parisian Jews—mostly poor families and recent immigrants from Eastern Europe—were robbed, not of sculptures or paintings, but of toys, saucepans, furniture, and sheets. Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews tells how this vast enterprise of plunder was implemented in the streets of Paris by analyzing images from an album of photographs found in the Federal Archives of Koblenz.
In a compelling approach to storytelling, When Europe Was a Prison Camp weaves together two accounts of a Jewish family’s eventual escape from Occupied Europe, avoiding the fate of many other Jews who were sent to concentration camps. One, a memoir written by the father in 1941; the other, begun by the son in the 1980s, fills in the story of himself and his mother, supplemented by historical research. The result is both personal and provocative, involving as it does issues of history and memory, fiction and “truth,” courage and resignation.
This volume, the third in a series of James G. McDonald’s edited diaries and papers, covers his work from 1945, with the formation of the Anglo-American Committee, through 1947, with the United Nations' decision to partition Palestine between Jews and Arabs. McDonald was instrumental in the recommendation that 100,000 Jewish refugees enter Palestine and won President Truman’s trust in order to counter attempts to nullify the report’s recommendations.
Noah Shenker calls attention to the ways that audiovisual testimonies of the Holocaust have been mediated by the institutional histories and practices of their respective archives. Shenker argues that testimonies are shaped not only by the encounter between interviewer and interviewee, but also by technical practices and the testimony process.
Fictional representations of horrific events run the risk of undercutting efforts to verify historical knowledge and may heighten our ability to respond intellectually and ethically to human experiences of devastation. In this captivating study of the epistemological, psychological, and ethical issues underlying Holocaust fiction, Emily Miller Budick examines the subjective experiences of fantasy, projection, and repression manifested in Holocaust fiction and in the reader’s encounter with it.