The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught in Between

Michael Dobbs. Knopf, $29.95 (372p) ISBN 978-1-5247-3319-3
With chilling accuracy, historian Dobbs (Six Months in 1945) looks at the fates of German Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany by weaving together three narratives: those of the Jewish residents of the village of Kippenheim, that of the larger plight of the Jews in Germany, and the resulting debates over immigration policy in the U.S. In Kippenheim, Dobbs recounts, Jews suddenly found themselves the object of violence on Nov. 10, 1938. They were part of a larger trend of German Jews applying for sanctuary in the U.S., but about 250,000 Germans had applied for U.S. visas by 1939, of whom only 27,370 were admitted every year. In the U.S., President Roosevelt struggled to balance humanitarian efforts with anti-Semitic backlash from his constituents; policy makers considered but declined to raise visa quotas or accept groups of refugee children. Denied asylum, many of Kippenheim’s Jewish inhabitants were transported to concentration camps. The author’s remarkable archival work, drawing on a wealth of previously neglected material and sources provided by prominent Kippenheimer families, produces a gripping account whose fine details address the enduring question of genocidal hatred. Haunting photographs punctuate the text: a shattered synagogue, German officers deporting a truckful of Kippenheimers, a 1942 hastily scribbled father’s final message to a daughter. This is gut-wrenching history. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn, IMC/Sagalyn. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 07/02/2019
Release date: 04/02/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-5247-3320-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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