Wit­ness To History

Ruth Licht­en­stein
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
This one-vol­ume his­to­ry of the Holo­caust is pro­fuse­ly illus­trat­ed and includes a mul­ti-media DVD. The book com­bines a wide array of pri­ma­ry sources and eye­wit­ness sur­vivor tes­ti­monies with exten­sive research into schol­ar­ly lit­er­a­ture. Focused on the expe­ri­ence of Ortho­dox and Hasidic Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust, it is attrac­tive­ly print­ed on glossy paper with numer­ous pho­tographs and col­or maps. The text is clear­ly writ­ten and care­ful­ly orga­nized with scrupu­lous cita­tion of all sources. It is to be regret­ted that there are numer­ous typo­graph­ic and some fac­tu­al errors that should be cor­rect­ed in the next edi­tion. The accom­pa­ny­ing DVD con­tains ani­mat­ed maps, a dig­i­tal time­line, sam­ples of music, art, and poet­ry of the Holo­caust, and out­stand­ing­ly edit­ed inter­views with Holo­caust sur­vivors and chil­dren of Holo­caust sur­vivors. There is also a relat­ed web­site http://​www​.pro​jectwit​ness​.org/​i​n​d​e​x.php.

Although Wit­ness to His­to­ry was designed pri­mar­i­ly for a read­er­ship of Ortho­dox and Hasidic Jews, the book has a wealth of mate­r­i­al of real val­ue for the gen­er­al read­er, as well. All in all, it is a wor­thy effort that is quite read­able and will lend itself to effec­tive teach­ing. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, glos­sary, illus­tra­tions, index, maps, mul­ti-media DVD, source notes.
Robert Moses Shapiro teach­es mod­ern Jew­ish his­to­ry, Holo­caust stud­ies, and Yid­dish lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture at Brook­lyn Col­lege of the City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. His most recent book is The War­saw Ghet­to Oyneg Shabes-Ringel­blum Archive: Cat­a­log and Guide (Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty Press in asso­ci­a­tion with the U.S. Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Library and the Jew­ish His­tor­i­cal Insti­tute in War­saw, 2009). He is cur­rent­ly engaged in trans­lat­ing Pol­ish and Yid­dish diaries from the Łódź ghet­to and the Yid­dish Son­derkom­man­do doc­u­ments found buried in the ash pits at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Discussion Questions