The Yel­low Star: The Per­se­cu­tion of the Jews in Europe 1933 – 1945

Ger­hard Schoenberner
  • Review
By – September 21, 2012

This book is a vivid tes­ta­ment to the notion that a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words. Orig­i­nal­ly issued in Ger­man in 1960, it has been pub­lished in eight lan­guages. The 1969 Eng­lish trans­la­tion has been revised and enlarged through many edi­tions. It is a com­pi­la­tion of select­ed black and white pho­tos, most not seen before, and per­ti­nent doc­u­men­ta­tion. The pri­ma­ry sources are most­ly from Nazi files, Sovi­et archives and per­son­al accounts of survivors. 

The black and white pho­tos vivid­ly por­tray the hor­ror the Jews endured as the Nazi regime enact­ed its final solu­tion. It is a book of the dead. As Steven Spiel­berg not­ed, Col­or beau­ti­fies.” The stark­ness of these black and white pho­tos makes the events pic­tured all the more haunting. 

The human dig­ni­ty of the vic­tims is appar­ent despite their degra­da­tion, despite the fact that they knew they were going to die. The mat­ter-of-fact state­ments of so many Nazi offi­cials attest to the unspeak­able cru­el­ty inflict­ed on the Jews. Accord­ing to a wit­ness at the Nurem­berg Tri­al, Eich­mann said, He would leap laugh­ing into the grave, because know­ing that he had five mil­lion peo­ple on his con­science would be a source of extra­or­di­nary satisfaction.” 

Much of the doc­u­men­ta­tion was tak­en from the diaries of the Nazi hier­ar­chy. The pho­tos, many tak­en by Nazi sol­diers, were sent home as war sou­venirs. The pho­tos of child vic­tims are par­tic­u­lar­ly poignant and touch­ing. One and a half mil­lion chil­dren, who lost their lives dur­ing this ter­ri­ble time in human his­to­ry, live on in these photos. 

There is much new and vital infor­ma­tion in this lat­est edi­tion. It should be oblig­a­tory read­ing for all those who think it’s time to for­get the Holo­caust. Through it, the civ­i­lized world can bear wit­ness to Nev­er Again.” Bib­lio., chrono­log­i­cal table 1933 – 1945, 200 photographs.

Arlyne Samuels a grad­u­ate of Brook­lyn Col­lege, taught and super­vised Eng­lish in New York City for 40 years. She was the coor­di­na­tor of the book club of the Greater Worces­ter (MA) Chap­ter of Hadas­sah. Arlyne passed away in May 2009 and will be missed by the Jew­ish Book World team.

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