This is a meticulously and extensively researched account — the result of ten years of study of post-war Germany and the interaction of Germans, Jews, and Allies, with emphasis on Berlin and the displaced persons’ camps. There are 80 pages of notes on the text and an eight page bibliography.
A quarter of a million Jewish survivors of the Holocaust lived among the defeated Germans in Allied occupied Germany. These survivors included those released from concentration camps, those who had managed to hide, and those who had been in the Soviet Union as slave labor.
The book focuses on Berlin, called “the greatest pile of rubble in the world” by residents and occupiers. In May, 1945, there were a half million displaced persons, from many nations, in Berlin. Sixty percent were female. The men had been killed, wounded or imprisoned. “Life in general has a strange, unreal quality.” One out of three women in Berlin was raped by Soviet soldiers, labeled the “Red Beast.” Venereal diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and mass abortions were prevalent, as the Soviets retaliated for the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
The displaced persons’ camps in the American Zone are well documented, especially those of the Jewish refugees. There was a baby boom. The Jews required a new life— “a final solution outside Europe.” Many wanted to go to Palestine, but the British objected to large numbers going.
The Germans considered themselves victims. They resented the returning Jews because they had to return homes and property they had confiscated. They also resented that the American Zone was a haven for the Jews.
This book presents much needed research into an era that needs even more examination, as the author herself notes. A segment about her grandfather’s involvement provides personal history. Bibliography, glossary, index, notes.