A dry book about a difficult topic, although he subject matter of this book could never lend itself to an easy read.
Author Agnes Grunwald-Spier somewhat compounds that difficulty by delivering the text in an almost academic format, providing facts with little thought given to readability. The book
is, however, thoroughly researched. The majority of the content comes from either the rescuers, the individuals
who were rescued, or close family members. Given the age of the survivors or their immediate families, capturing these first-person narratives is key since so few are still alive.
This entire category of book was of course made famous by Steven Spielberg's
movie Schindler’s List. Oskar Schindler is covered in detail here, adding
some additional background information about Herr Schindler. Grunwald-Spier
separates the rescuers into three broad categories: those who performed some of
these miraculous deeds for religious reasons; those that did so for humanitarian
reasons; and a large group classified as "other." The first two are self-evident by their title, but the third
features an interesting mix of motivational drivers, including financial gain. Many of the tales are interesting but due to the textbook delivery of the material, the cases
begin to blur. There are simply too many names and places. But it is good that these stores have been captured and recorded for history's sake.
The last chapter contains an overall analysis of what was taking place in the world at that time.
Extremely interesting and telling is the official state outlook in England as the Nazis came to power. Clear anti-Semitism was pervasive throughout England, much of it in the government. Many Jews could have been saved, but official government policy did not allow
for that. Another interesting point is the relative awareness in Western countries about the upcoming peril to the European Jews. While common thought is no one knew “how bad” things were until Hitler came to power in 1936, or once Germany rolled over all of Europe in 1939, or until stories started leaking out about the camps by 1942, it was clear in England and France and the US
even by 1933 that, if you were Jewish and living in Europe, your future lay in serious uncertainty. History would reveal how truly horrible that future would be.