cover image Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945

Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945

Raul Hilberg. Aaron Asher Books, $25 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019035-4

Blending capsule portraits with unemotional analysis, eminent historian Hilberg ( The Destruction of the European Jews ) gives names, faces and identites to the agents, victims, collaborators and helpless or compromised witnesses of the Holocaust. In short chapters, he explores the diverse fates of Jews who perished and of the half-million Jewish refugees who fled Germany; of intermarried Jews and those made Jewish by decree; of children, resisters and suicides. Among the leaders of the Jewish councils, which were conduits for Nazi control and for victims' petitions, Hilberg identifies crisis managers, dictators and traditional superintendents. He profiles various types of Nazi perpetrators--zealots, perfectionists, sadistic vulgarians and those with misgivings. With meticulous documentation he probes the inaction of the Western Allies in the face of the Holocaust, the long silence of church leaders, particularly Pope Pius XII, and the complicity of those Austrians, Dutch, Croats, Romanians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others who abetted the Nazis. This understated, provocative work opens with a profile of the chief perpetrator, Hitler. Hilberg's calm detachment gives this portrait gallery its cumulative power. (Sept.)